Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: Marzi by Marzena Sowa

I recently started a new reading program with  my students at school and showed them how I help to reach some of my reading goals--diversity.  What I used to consider as taking a kind of cop out to reading long novels, I now know has opened up my eyes to a whole new variety of genres and forms.  Now, I can honestly say that I'm pretty sold on graphic novels, poetry collections, etc.  Having said that, I recently accepted a copy of Marzi by Marzena Sowa as part of  the Amazon Vine program.  Although not like any of the other graphic novels I've read recently, this was a great story and coming of age tale.

Synopsis:  Told in  series of vignettes in Marzi's life, we are introduced to the life of Marzena Sowa just ten years from the end of communism in Poland.  During this time, we see the family live through bread lines, worker's strikes, and the effect of Chernobyl to the east on their town in the west.  Throughout these tales of fear, poverty, and trial, we see Marzi's view of her own family living their lives day to day, as any little girl would view her world.  The things is, this isn't any day to day life; this is growing up near the end of communist rule.

Review:  Let me just say how much I loved little Marzi.  Her character is sweet, charming, and vulnerable, with a healthy dose of insecurity brought on by the culture of her environment and a mother who seemed to feel she had to bring Marzi up with an iron first.  Marzi was just a normal little girl, watching as her parents stood in line for simple food staples, went to school with friends who had goods her family seemingly couldn't afford, and spent time with her country relatives, learning to store up food for leaner times.  Marzi's life is what is not normal.  Although she is a little girl who wants to play, to learn new things, and to have her own puppy, the world she lives in is much too oppressive for a little girl to really understand.  Through her eyes, we really get to see how scary and challenging it was for the people of Poland to negotiate these last days under communist rule.

Overall, I really did enjoy this graphic novel.  The version I had was a little over 200 pages long, and with the vignettes,  it made it hard to stick with the novel in one sitting.  I found myself coming back to it, to read a few stories at a time.  One part of the story that I found especially interesting was the section after the accident in Chernobyl.  Although it was far away, the affect of the radioactive cloud that traveled to Marzi's town in Poland was huge!  The fears they had over the rain, the food, and even their animals sent a country already suffering for food and work into a greater tailspin.  I don't know that I'd ever considered the dramatic affect this event had on other nations, but we really do get a good first-hand account from little Marzi.

On the whole, this was a good graphic novel that I could see being used to help explain more about Poland's modern history and about communism.  Honestly, it has made me want to learn more about the author today and her thoughts on these events as an adult.  Not a short read, but a good one!

*FTC Disclosure:  This review was based on an Amazon Vine program selection.

1 comment:

  1. It seems like graphic novels are a lot more international than other types of books in the US, too. Of course I say SEEMS--I don't have any evidence to back that statement up. :)