I am always worried books from the WW2 period will desensitize us as readers. That out of the blue one book wont punch my gut with grief and horror, leaving me to shrug it off with a ‘I guess it was scary’.
No! I hope not. Just as Afghan-fiction shakes the very ground I walk on, so should these period piece novels set in one of history’s most horrific human right devaluation. I suppose having a Jewish grandfather, a lineage, and stories, I seem to insist that books such as this one stand out, almost tack themselves visually, emotionally and literary to this very period in time.
The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver is narrated by Mika, who slowly recounts his childhood during the 1944 Jewish Ghetto is uprising. Mika’s grandfather has a famous coat, sewn by a master tailor, is riddled with hidden pockets, secret fabric coverings to smuggle belongings during Nazi invasions and surprise relocation's. When Mika’s grandfather is killed in the streets, Mika saves the coat and finds a treasure beneath its hidden pockets – puppets.
This is where the story catches its pace, telling the holocaust from a vastly different view than this novel’s counterparts. As young Mika survives the ghetto, telling stories to the children – that is until Max, a German soldier, takes Mika hostage and forces him to entertain German soldiers with his puppets.
Eva Weaver certainly captures the atmosphere, the horror, and suspense with her eloquent prose and sleight of hand when it comes to her characters. With this said, I didn’t find this to be the best novel I have ever read.
The dialogue lacked, the writing became vastly emotive and contrite, almost too sweet to taste. It’s a quick read and nothing I regret reading – I just wish it was better. There is no doubt an audience for this novel; it’s edible, but guilty of promising too much. Try this one for the ease of reading, and its individuality.
The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver features on this month’s Exclusive Books Recommends for August.