Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gracianna by Trini Amador

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Read: June 10, 2013

The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris. Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story. Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force. As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.

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Inspired by his childhood discovery of a German luger in his grandmother's nightstand, author Trini Amador painstakingly pieced together the facts of her life in an attempt to understand how such an artifact had found its way into her possession and in so doing created the foundation of what would become his debut novel, Gracianna.

Speaking as someone whose own grandmother took war time secrets to the grave, I couldn't help but find the basis for this novel intriguing. In reading the book, however, I found myself repeatedly amazed by how effectively Amador managed to portray his characters. The unique familiarity between Amador and his cast - his having grown up with their stories, knowing them inside and out - really comes through the text and gives the book a pleasantly personal feel. 

Another thing that surprised me was the depth Amador was able to create between Gracianna and her sister, Constance. Within these pages the author beautifully recreated the intricacies of sisterly affection, a bond so believable that readers never once question Gracianna's mission to save Constance from a death sentence inside a Nazi concentration camp. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this relationship is the center of the entire novel. It had to work and though I can't begin to think how he did so, I feel Amador's efforts on par with those of several more seasoned authors.

On a larger scale, I want to draw attention to how Amador paints the war itself. I'll grant that Gracianna's association with the French Resistance isn't exactly typical, but her personal story, her leaving home to earn passage to America, her believing in that dream and having it literally blown apart by forces outside her control... We have a natural tendency to romanticize the war, to focus of the valiant heroes or the great tragedies, and in so doing forget the average citizen, the people who watched the war through their sitting room windows, who stood witness as the world they knew crumbled under artillery fire. Perhaps it is because Gracianna is someone of average background who was forced to make extraordinary choices, but I think this book really brings home how it might have felt to be that average citizen, the everyday Joe who one day woke up on a battlefield. 

A captivating WWII fiction of one woman's tenacity and courage in war torn France.  

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Aurrera begiratzen ez duena, atzean dago - Those who don't look forward, stay behind.
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Check out all the stops on Trini Amador's Gracianna Virtual book tour

Monday, July 15
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 16
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, July 17
Review at A Book Geek
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, July 18
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Guest Post at Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, July 19
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, July 22
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, July 23
Review at Reflections of a Bookaholic
Guest Post at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, July 24
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at West Metro Mommy
Thursday, July 25
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, July 29
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Giveaway at A Writer’s Life
Tuesday, July 30
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, July 31
Review at The True Book Addict
Thursday, August 1
Review at Impressions in Ink
Guest Post & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Friday, August 2
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit
Monday, August 5
Review at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, August 6
Review at My Reading Room
Guest Post at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, August 7
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Interview & Giveaway at My Reading Room
Thursday, August 8
Review at Sir Read-a-Lot
Review at Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Friday, August 9
Review at Diary of an Eccentric
Interview at Sir Read-a-Lot

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