Sometimes you read a book and it tears you apart. Every time you read it you were weeping, sobbing, breaking for the characters. You scream at them, cry for them, love them. That’s what my relationship with Someone Named Eva is. It’s a challenging relationship, but I love it and wouldn’t be able to break up with it if I tried.
I first read it several years ago, and I don’t even remember how I came to buy it, or even why I bought it in the first place. I called it my favourite book simply because it was a good book…one of many. But lately I’ve realized that it truly is a gem, a rare, unheard of jewel that I honestly adore.
Someone Named Eva, by Joan M. Wolf, follows the story of an eleven-year-old girl in Lidice, Czechoslovakia during World War ll. Hitler’s soldiers come to her town and take everyone away. The men and boys are separated from the women and children, who are taken to a school gym. The children were examined and, if they were deemed “suitable” for Aryan standards, they were sent to training centers to become German citizens.
Milada was one of those kidnapped children sent to a training center along with other girls. Through the course of two years, she learns the German language, prohibited from speaking her own language, and is given a new German name, Eva. She is told that her family was killed in an air raid, even though she knows that to be a lie. She begins to struggle with remembering her native language and even her own name, hanging on to the stupid, desperate, child-like hope that she will be rescued by her family.
Even when she is adopted by a German family, she tries to believe that her family will come for her. “Eva” realizes that she has come to love her adoptive family, even though they are the enemy.
And then the war ends. Her new family, once rich and prosperous, is now broken and torn from the war. For the first time, she wonders if maybe, just maybe, her family won’t come for her. Maybe they forgot about her, or don’t know where she is, or can’t come for her. The hope that she has clung to for so long is slowly falling apart.
There is more to the book, but that would of course spoil it. I will say that I can never get through this book with dry eyes. To be put through so much grief, loss, and pain…it would be terrible.
I guess part of the reason I like it so much is that it’s an unknown book. It’s not a popular, spoken-about book where you hear about it every five seconds. And it’s real…you don’t have some stupidly happy, smiling book where nothing is wrong and everything gets solved. The end of the book is a lot worse off than the beginning…but I guess that’s what war does.
If there’s one book I could recommend to you, it would be Someone Named Eva. It’s real, heartbreaking, and beautiful.