It’s been an awfully long time since I did some #MiniReviews. A TERRIBLE TRAVESTY. So today I’m combining Anna and the Swallow Man and Iris and the Tiger since they are a) both remarkably similar in title, b) featuring young children, and c) surprise review-copies and d) because why not.
Thank you to Text Publishing and Random Penguin House!
My unfortunate thought, when closing this book, was emphatically: “WELL WHAT.” Since it’s getting stunning reviews mostly everywhere I go, I’m pretty sure it’s a “this is me being a melon, and the book is actually fine” sort of thing. But I didn’t “get” the story. And, because I’m mildly addicted to lists, I’ll write down the WHYS.
- The narrator is 7 years old…but it’s written in a “literary” style that makes me think it’s for adults. But it’s being marketed as YA? I AM CONFUSED.
- But trust me: this is not middle-grade. NOPE.
- Since the story is set in WWII and is about Anna losing her father and being rescued/protected by the “Swallow Man”…it involves a lot of walking. And starving. And walking. And waaaalking. And I was mildly bored.
- Anna spends the entire book having complicated thoughts that no seven year old really has.
- I don’t actually know what the point of the Swallow Man and Anna’s journey was. Like what were they trying to achieve?????
- Also, usually, I’m a fan of open endings? But I only feel like I read JUST HALF A BOOK. Where is the conclusion??
- Also since Anna is so young — she misses stuff. This makes the reader needs to read between the lines and interpret. Now this complaint is “purely me”, okay?! But I’m not so good at reading between the lines, so I felt left out of the conversation.
- It really truly is BEAUTIFULLY written. The words are all very exact and clever and the style is charming.
- I haven’t read a book like this before?! CUE UNIQUENESS.
- I definitely felt the cold and hunger and bewilderment of Anna…and books that make one feel a thing are very admirable.
- I feel like it’s meticulously well researched.
- The Swallow Man actually swallows nothing. WHAT IS THIS LIFE.
And because I’ve started with the lists…WE MIGHT AS WELL CONTINUE. (I have a list addiction. I did warn you.) But, unlike the above review, Iris and the Tiger is emphatically Middle-Grade. Please find copious 12-year-olds and stuff this in their faces. They’ll thank you.
- It features Iris, who is a mixed-culture kid, going to Spain to see a zany aunt, and there’s MAGIC. All the good stuff.
- The zany aunt was incredibly awesome and weird.
- Also the aunt’s house?! WEIRD AND WONDERLAND SORT OF DEAL.
- While on her holiday in Spain, Iris makes friends with Jordi who was adorable.
- I loooooved the Spanish setting and it felt so natural and nicely described that I FEEL LIKE I’VE VISITED SPAIN NOW.
- Iris was a very factual, intelligent small human whom I easily admired and enjoyed reading about.
- I discovered what a churro was. (A kinda donut thingy?!?)
- I want one.
- I actually struggled to care about the storyline because…I’m not that interested in paintings. Like, I am a bit??? But reading a book about “finding the meaning” in a painting and all that is soooo not me. If it’d just been about the crazy magic, I would’ve been fine. BUT IT WEREN’T. Cue gnashing of teeth.
- Also there was a lot of sub-plots about tearing down forests and building houses instead and…let me blink rapidly and not particularly care about that either.
- If I was 12 reading this, I might’ve been a tiny bit uninvested?
- But I was also an uncultured swine at 12 years old, so probably we should ignore me.
Iris and the Tiger was definitely a good, zany, fabulously written book. And pfft, even if I struggled to care about the storyline, I adored the characters so that’s good enough for me.