3 out of 4 stars
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The Girl from the Tower, A Journey of Lies is a memoir by Joanna Giangardella about being delivered from a loving family living in near crushing poverty during the aftermath of the Greek civil war into the hands of wealthy, abusive adoptive parents in the United States as a young girl. This book describes a heartbreaking case of physical, emotional, and hints at sexual abuse experienced by the author from the age of 9. While the descriptions of abuse are never graphic, this book may not be appropriate for sensitive readers.
This book may not appeal to readers looking for an action-packed story. Girl from the Tower is more of a collection of memories than a traditional story; it only loosely follows a direct timeline. The chapters jump back and forth between biographical sketches of her family members left behind in Greece and the progress of her life passing in America. The time jumping and lack of dates may be hard to follow for some readers. This did not bother me in the beginning because it was like an authentic way of recounting memories only half-remembered from a difficult childhood. However, I thought that more concrete dates and a clearer description of the passage of time would have been more appropriate towards the end of the book, when she is an adult.
I do recommend Girl from the Tower to readers interested in modern Greek history. This book does not dive into a detailed analysis of the Greek wars and Turkish occupation, but enough historical context is offered to understand the lasting impact on daily life in the poor village. I particularly enjoyed the anecdotes about the history of the small villages (though much of it is tragic), such as the story of the Dance of Death that took place in the village of Ierissos. I definitely have a much better understanding now of Greek history over the last two hundred years than I did prior to reading this book.
I liked the style of narration that Joanna Giangardella uses in the book. The tone is very simple and understated, as though the author is simply retelling the events as they happened, rather than attempting to spin something poetic. This is not to say that the writing is boring or plain, however. This straightforward approach is very effective in conveying the misery, heartache, and relief in each scene. The love felt for the lost family members is poignant in the chapters dedicated to their memories.
Overall, I give The Girl from the Tower, a Journey of Lies 3 out of 4 stars. The book was very well edited and I did not find any typos or grammatical errors. The simple writing style mixed with the heavy subject matter allows for either quick or lengthy reading, whichever the reader prefers (the book is only about 171 pages long). This book is both educational and emotional, which makes for a wonderful reading experience.
The Girl from the Tower, a Journey of Lies
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