Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka (audiobook)

genre: historical fiction

In a Poland on the cusp of World War II, two unlikely people will fall in love.  Their courtship, their choices and all the hardship and terror of war will guide the rest of their lives and the lives of those that come after them.  Told in two time periods, we also come to know Beata - a millennial living in the post-Communist New Poland, who has come to Krakow to try and find a direction in life.  Living with her aunt and cousin and working dead-end jobs, Beata knows that there are essential pieces to her grandmother's stories that have been left out but will the answers help her make peace with her past?  Or with the past of her beloved Poland, who in the past half century was literally drawn through the wringer and back out?

Both an engaging and well-woven book of family stories and the power of family ties as well as a love letter to Poland and Krakow, in particular, this book will break your heart and put it back together again.

I loved this.  Loved it.  The narrators were INCREDIBLE.  I loved hearing the correct pronunciation of proper names and places. Yes, it's sometimes a really hard and sad story. But I felt like the author never shoved me down so far that there wasn't a way back out, there is beauty and kindness and sympathy too.  There is determination and an incredible ability to overcome hardship, I loved getting a better sense of the Polish people and how important collective memory is in a country that has been occupied twice, by two different groups of people, in recent memory. I really wish I'd read it before my trip to Poland but the nice thing was that as I read, I had Krakow in my mind, so much was familiar that it's possible part of why I loved this book so much had to do with how much I fell in love with this country when I visited last year.

I liked the switch between the two time periods and how things slowly were tied together between the two.  I loved the differences between village life and city life and how that could change you.  I appreciated how the author allowed her characters to grieve and how they managed to work through it.  Just a really interesting and well-written story.

note: strong language and adult themes

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