“Hassanakis is a young Muslim boy of Turkish descent growing up on Crete during WWI. Fifteen generations of his family have lived on the island and until now he has never had any reason not to think he is a Cretan. But with the Great Powers tussling over the collapsing Ottoman Empire and the island’s Christians in rebellion, an outbreak ofethnic violence forces his family to flee to the Cretan City ofChania. He begins to lay down roots and his snappy dress earns him the nickname of Hassan ‘the mirror’. As WWI draws to a close and the Turkish War of Independence rages, he begins a heady romance with the elegant Hüsniye. There are rumours that the Cretan Muslims will be sent to Turkey but Hassanakis can’t believe he will be sent to a country whose language he barely knows and where he knows no-one.”
I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to read this wonderful book. If I am honest, I don’t have great knowledge about the history of Crete and I was grateful for the chance to read a story set against a background of real events. I have visited as a child but was oblivious to the tensions and bloodshed that occurred in the not so distant past. I found the maps and historical timeline at the beginning and the glossary at the end really helpful to orientate myself and have a reference point as I read.
Children of War is a short but absorbing read. The story has been written in a really engaging way as we follow Hassanakis through the ups and downs of his life. Some of the issues reminded me a little of the tensions between religious groups where I grew up and although this is set in a different time, it’s interesting that the same issues of territory and religion seem to pop up again and again. Following one person closely though their journey really highlights the importance of relationships and kindness and the impact we can make on others, often without thinking about it.
This is definitely a book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction and wants to read an account of one person and their own triumphs and challenges. It will make you think about what it means to be “from somewhere” and about your own background and family history.
Thank you to Anne for organising this tour and Neem Tree Press for allowing us the opportunity to read and review.