Austria, 1944: Jakob, a gypsy boy—half Roma, half Yenish—runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another’s blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y.
He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone.
“Don’t be afraid, Jakob,” his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. “See the colors, my boy,” he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs.
The story of the Romany holocaust during World War 2 is not often talked about, but this book does a fantastic job at portraying the horror the Romany lived in during that time. The tale is spread across 3 decades from the rolling green hills of England to a mental institute in Austria. It tells the story of on Romany family trying to survive. This book is beautifully written and though difficult to read it is a story that needs to be told.
I should also say that this book has one pretty cover. I know you shouldn’t judge how good a book is by its cover and I also have a proof copy so the cover of the hardback version could be different. But this book is seriously pretty.
*I received a copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.