The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels

This thoughtful book lives up to its tantalizing opening, in which a desperate Jewish child seeks help from a Greek geologist working at the archaeological site in Buskupin, Poland at the beginning of World War II. Thus begins the long journey of Jakob Beer, smuggled to Greece and hidden from the Nazis by Athos Roussos. Athos is more than just a man with a conscience, however — he is also a respected academic, so when Greece plunges into political turmoil at the end of the war, Athos secures a professorship in Toronto and takes Jakob along. At this point, 13-year-old Jakob realizes that he loves Athos, who has been his only family for almost 6 years. But Jakob remains haunted by what happened to his family while he hid, as taught by his mother, behind a wall as the Nazis invaded his home. He knows his father is dead and believes his mother is, as well. But what about his 15-year-old sister, Bella? The uncertainty about Bella haunts him for the rest of his life and is a prominent theme in Anne Michaels’ touching story.

The only difficulty I had with this book was one of style. Michaels is a poet, and while I appreciate beautiful writing, there were a few passages that struck me as a bit overdone. But this is a quibble. Jakob and Athos stayed on my mind for days after I finished the book, and I thought Michaels’ characterizations were exquisite. I strongly recommend this book.

As for animals, Jakob is very aware of them while he hides in the woods, as he visits the beach with Athos for a post-war remembrance, as the two seek shelter from a thunderstorm. Not much else happens that would make an impact on animal lovers, so I am declaring this book SAFE for people who worry about what happens to animal characters.

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April 3, 2010 - Posted by | Book Reviews, historical fiction | , , , , , , , , ,

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