The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener Grotta

The Winter Boy by Sally Wiener GrottaWhat a wonderfully woven story. Tragic, touching and thoughtful.

There was so much depth to this story that trying to review it as I would others cannot possibly do it justice. In the beginning, it reminded me of one of my all time favorite books: Sacajawea. Halfway through I realized it was on a level of its own.

The Winter Boy follows a young boy through one season with his new Alleshi. An Alleshi is described as Every Woman and is put in his charge to teach, mold and influence the boy to grow into an Alleman: the protector of their people.

However, the story takes on twists and complications far beyond the tasks of most Alleshi, as Tayar discovers that the boy she is to teach is actually the son of their people’s sworn enemy. In the wake of losing her own husband to that enemy, she is left to struggle between feelings of guilt and hatred, to understanding and ultimately unconditional love.

The beauty in the relationships formed and described throughout the book was remarkable. The connection between Tayar and Dov and the lessons she taught the boy sometimes made me laugh since deep down I think all women wish that men would have such instruction. This book definitely highlighted the many differences between men and women in communication, feelings and really everything.

There was quite a lot going on in this book. At first the concept of the Alleshi was a little disturbing for me. But the instruction, wisdom and guidance that they provided their boys was actually a very strong, remarkable and interesting idea. The pain and sadness and strength they would have to have in order to do such a job is probably the most difficult thing imaginable. It took the role of women to a whole new level of strength.

The tale of The Winter Boy will not only take you on a journey following the characters, but a journey within yourself. It deals with love, loss, war, personal growth, forgiveness and strength in ways you’ve likely never seen within the pages of one book. I am a fan of Sally Wiener Grotta to be sure. She is a fantastic writer and the two books I have read and reviewed so far are night and day from each other, in topic only. The writing and storytelling in each was absolutely wonderful: she is an author on the rise, so keep an eye out for her.

The Winter Boy is not a fast read. But rather one you want to settle into. It’s deep, poignant and almost read like a spiritual guide of influence. You will take something away from reading this book. It’s far more than a work of fiction.

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