Monday, September 17, 2018

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Mash

This was such an emotionally intense read, although thankfully, I knew what I was getting into when I started the book.

My Real Name is Hanna is the story of Hanna Slivka, a fourteen-year old Jewish girl living in Ukraine. Her childhood is happy, until Hitler comes. And with the Gestapo comes persecution, as their food runs low and once-friendly neighbours turn their backs. And then one day, Hanna and her family hear that Hitler plans to make their town Judenfrei - “free of Jews” - and know that they must leave their home in order to survive.

This book isn’t an adventure story. It is the story of one girl and her family trying to survive with dignity. As Hanna’s father says, “This is what those Nazis make us do, huh? Live like barbarians. But the best revenge, my Eva, is just that - to live...”

And live they do. It is not an easy experience, especially for a girl on the cusp of womanhood, but Hanna and her family do their best to hold on to their faith and culture even in the worst of times. While they are sometimes forced to break certain rules, such as eating non-kosher meat, they try their best to live in a way that gives them dignity, and that means honouring their religion and culture.

I really appreciated how this book brought out the strength of the human spirit and of friendships. Next to Hanna lives Alla, a non-Jewish person who sells pysanka, eggs decorated with traditional folk designs. These eggs hold deep meaning and even though they are not Hanna’s culture, they represent the friendship she has with Alla and the strength that Hanna gets from it.

If you want to read about a World War II story set in a less traditional location, you’ll want to pick this up. It’s got heart and it’s got character, and though it is dark, it is also uplifting.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I love books like this--seeing humans overcome what seems like insurmountable obstacles and still hold onto their humanity. The human spirit can be so resilient.

    1. I agree! This was pretty dark but overall uplifting!


I really do appreciate all comments, and I'll try my best to reply within 24 hours!