Book Tour Review: Gracianna by Trini Amador

Monday, October 28, 2013
Title: Gracianna
Author: Trini Amador
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 296 (hardcover edition)
Published: July 2013
Source: Historical Ficton Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

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.

Gracianna is the fictional retelling of an apparently fascinating and complex woman. Related closely to the book's proud author, Gracianna is a larger than life force and her life's ups and downs more than makes for an involving read. A well-worn and directly-told story, Gracianna is an interesting look into the full life of a family legend who lived through one of Paris's most infamous events.

The way Gracianna is written and read can feel more like a memoir or a biography than a true "fiction" novel at times. The narration can be dry or cold initially, and the characters hard to empathize with. This is the author's first novel and it reads like a debut -- a good one, but still obviously a labor of love rather than one of pure talent. Still, despite the overabundance of telling and the remoteness of the narration, Gracianna is a fast read; one that showcases multiple ways of French life in the era around WWII. The characters evolve and become more realistic and the author falls into an easy, readable style.

It helps that Trini Amador is obviously passionate about the story he is weaving here. It may be fiction, but it's easy to forget that it is based on the true events of the life of a family member. As an author, Amador manages to take huge events and boil it down for the everyperson - his story of survival in WWII is a quieter one, but still affecting. It's a pretty impersonal narrative, all things considered, especially that it pis rendered in the third person omniscient.

Through Gracianna, her eventual husband Juan, her sister Constance's trials in Auschwitz, this story of a French Basque girl striving for independence while Paris falls to the might of Germany is unforgettable. Trini Amador's and his family are right to want to spread the story of their real-life Gracianna whio was immortalized in the name of their brand of wine. Forgive the stiff beginning, and readers will be more than rewarded.

1 comment:

  1. Wow...fantastic review. Your comments are excellent...thanks.

    I am reading this book for the tour and enjoying it.

    Have a great week.

    Haven't visited in a while. Nice to stop back.


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