But when her father, Professor Lott, tells her they are moving to Poland to be part of the underground movement there, Eva is stunned. How can he do this to her? The novel then alternates between the stories of Eva and her new friend, Tomek. Eva wants the security of her comfortable life in America.
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Take a look at that baby. Just gorgeous. And an actual scene from the book--one of my very favorite things. The fact that it was YA historical fiction set during the late s in Communist-occupied Poland certainly intrigued me. I had never heard of Dandi Daley Mackall before, but my library happily had a copy on the shelves so I went and checked it out immediately.
But, in the end, I infinitely prefer a realistic and resonant tale such as this one. The year is Eva Lott is feeling pretty good about life in general. Then her English professor father has to go and ruin it all by announcing that the two of them are moving. To Poland. Effective immediately. She spends the first portion of the story coming up with increasingly far-fetched ways she can sneak back to the States or convince her father she has no business being in Poland at all.
Meanwhile, her father settles in to teach his young compatriots about journalism as they work to smuggle an illegal printing press into their home in order to spread their message opposing the rampant oppression of freedom of speech and the Polish people.
When Eva finds herself rubbing shoulders with political activists no older than herself, things take on a slightly different slant. Until I read this book, I knew next to nothing about the modern-day Communist occupation of Poland. Following Eva as she leaves her home and friends in Chicago to follow her father to Poland, sharing a tiny room with him in a house full of rebels, I found myself quickly caught up.
Though she initially sounds and acts like the stereotypical clueless, privileged spoiled teenager, she becomes curious and sensitive to the culture and history of her new home once the importance of what is going on around her begins to sink in. Everything about this novel unfolds slowly. Their initial border crossing is vividly tense and chilling.
You feel, along with the entire group of rebels, the suffocation and knife edge intensity of the occupation. Eva learns that sometimes life takes you by the throat and hurls you bodily into the middle of a war zone. She learns there are things in that war zone worth fighting for, that her life can be bigger than it was, that the seed of a plum can hold the spirit of a nation.
And the ending is worth every page that it takes to get there. I finished it both satisfied and moved. The militia control everything from food to religion. How does this relate to American girl Eva Lott? Well her father has decided to uproot her from her perfect life in Chicago to a small village in Poland in order for him to lead an underground newspaper.
Eva is devastated. After an arduous and frightful trip, Eva and her father finally arrive in Poland and are greeted by Tomek. Tomek introduces them to all the other people living in the house, but Eva feels unwelcome and immediately starts planning an escape route. She also thinks that there may even be something pulling her towards Tomek.
Will Eva stay, or will she go? Will her father be successful in creating an underground newspaper? This book was okay. To me it started out a little slowly. I had never really read anything about the "Iron Curtain" in Poland and this really opened my eyes to what other people, who were not free, had to endure on a day-to-day basis.
I have to say the historical facts were my favorite part of the book. They are the only things I really remember.
Dandi Daley Mackall