How Languages Saved Me by Tadeusz Haska and Stefanie Naumann

Tadeusz Haska and Stefanie Naumann
Koehler Books (2019)
ISBN 9781633939233
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (03/2020)

“How Languages Saved Me: A Polish Story Of Survival” by Tadeusz Haska and Stefanie Naumann is the story of Tadeusz Haska.

His story begins at the beginning of WWII in Poland when as a young teenager him and his brother found themselves orphan and on their own. A sympathetic teacher helps them to continue their education through scholarships but that meant their separation as Tadeusz is the first one to go to high school. Passing the final exam, he was able to move on to the University; then the Germans attacked Poland. After enduring few bombardments, he decided to enlist to fight the Germans along with a bunch of other young students. They are directed to wait near a bomb shelter until the train that could take them to the town where the recruiting office is located is ready to leave. Tadeusz had always been fascinated by languages and was a skilled linguist, and as he waited, he started writing in a notebook on polish ancient language to pass time, and to keep notes of his classes so that he wouldn’t forget. When a police officer sees him writing in weird symbols, he thought he was a spy and arrested him to be interrogated, and so it begins his war story of survival.

The book is presented as a narrative through the protagonist’s own voice. It feels as Tadeusz is talking to the reader from his living room next to the fireplace as we sit on the floor and listen. I found this aspect of the writing to be endearing and captivating to the point where the lack of writing technique doesn’t take away from the experience. Stefanie Naumann did an awesome job keeping her grandfather’s voice intact throughout this extraordinary adventure which kept me glued to the pages until the end.

I gave “How Languages Saved Me: A Polish Story Of Survival” by Tadeusz Haska and Stefanie Naumann a four-star rating only because it needs to be polished with respect to the writing technique, it is Five-Stars in regards to story, voice, and even editing. Definitely a MUST READ!

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