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. (Description taken from Goodreads)
Trini Amador provides further background to his story of Gracianna, to the time of finding a loaded gun in her room and for the reasons why he wrote this story – it’s all in the trailer here:
During the first half of this book I was ready to leave it, put it down, delete it, whatever. It was written very simplistically and to me if felt as though written for those in an elementary grade. For example it seemed to be geared toward a reader whom required short sentences with explanations of the words and terms included in brackets at the end of the sentence. To add to the simplistic style, subheadings would start off every new thought or occurrence. (“Meeting Monsieur Dominique”; “The Woman’s Dormitory”; “The Letter to Bettina”.)
Furthermore, there was an excessive and more often than not, completely unnecessary, (over)use of quotation marks….
“This trait came from his mother, who some said was “too timid”. Others said she was simply close to God, devoted to her family and “preferred to stay inside,” doing everything to make the household run.”
“Shen used the back porch of the house for his “exercises”.
“Juan wanted to be more like Shen, so Shen would teach him how to “meditate”.”
“Juan was able to occasionally “let go” of the world and listen to himself.”
“Once, Juan had “missed” his provision wagon by a day.”
It was agonizing. There is no other way to describe it. However, I continued on as I felt it would be a great injustice to a story that holds such deep meaning and emotion for the author. And once again, I found myself thankful for doing so. When we approach the parts where Gracianna is heavily involved with the French Resistance and desperate to have her beloved sister, Constance, freed from a concentration camp, does the story rapidly improve. The simplistic style of writing seems to disappear, or perhaps I’ve grown more accustomed to it, the overuse of quotation marks has definitely stopped and the pace begins to pick up considerably. The determination of Gracianna to rescue her sister, all while putting herself in great and grave danger, along with the stories about Constance’s terror in the camp are truly wonderful to read.
Amador did lovingly share the story of his great-grandmother and what he came to see as the real story to how she came to have a gun hiding in her nightstand. This powerful woman consistently stressed the need for gratitude and the final notes about Gracianna are filled with love and gratitude for her. So, while the simplistic style of writing and the overuse of quotation marks in the beginning of this story caused some “serious distraction” from “truly enjoying” it, I am very glad I kept with it, because the second half and end does shine for this wonderful person in Amador’s life. Thank you for sharing it with us. (And thanks to NetGalley for providing an advanced reader’s copy, much appreciated.)