Teenaged. Clinomaniac. Caffeine Addicted. Fangirl. Bibliomaniac. Introverted.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
This being based off a incredible true story, I feel pretty bad criticizing it. But it has to be done. And then there are bits of the story that personally disappointed me; things which, for the most part, have nothing to do with the writing. So all the super-subjective thoughts are at the end of the review, but first...
This is a translated book, which is awesome. Media from other countries made readily available and understood for us English speaking peoples. However, I feel like maybe a lot was lost in translation. This is a hopeful story, yes, but hope amid disease and death and darkness. This is a love story, but love amid hatred and war. And even when these horrifying elements are at the forefront, I did not see them as such. The idea and the words are there, but there was a gravity missing to it all. Similarly, though this is a love story, I did not get a good sense of love between Lili and Miklos, and it was not as hopeful and inspiring as it should have been, giving the true story. I felt nothing.
Additionally, though there are quotes from Lili and Miklos' letters strewn throughout, most of the story is prose. While it worked for some parts of the book, I think maybe just their letters or, at the very least, more of them would have been better, due to that we are told Lili and Miklos wrote often to each other, and grew to love one another through their letters, but we don't actually get to see much of that.
Also, the book is written from the POV of Lili and Miklos' son, who is, of course, the author of the book. While it could have been a nice touch, it didn't come across as very personal and usually came across as jarring, as you would be in Miklos' head and then Miklos would be referred to as "my father", and it always made me do a double-take.
Now for the subjective thoughts...
One of Miklos' friends, while a good friend, was pretty constantly chock of innuendos. Miklos was a die-hard socialist, which was just hard to hear promoted so valiantly and zealously. Though probably not aware of how serious it was, Lili received the Eucharist as a non-Catholic, but still intended to convert. Miklos claims to be very serious about conversion to the Catholic Church, but really seems to be just serious about Lili. He proposes a less binding oath to the Church, in which they would be bound to the Church, but the Church not to them?? I've never personally heard of such a thing, but that doesn't mean anything. More research needed on that bit. I guess regarding the religious stuff, there was enough mentioned about their religious beliefs and desires to make it a pretty big deal, but not a lot of follow-through. I wanted to know if Lili and Miklos ever converted and became practicing Catholics. Did Miklos ever really wish to be Catholic at any point in his life, or was it all for Lili?