Before reading this book it's imperative that the reader familiarize herself with the historical context— the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and Post-Communism in Europe. This is the setting of the novel. The story is told through the eyes of a child, Peter,—and that means that there are distortions and events that are quite tangental to what is happening.
Peter's grandfather is a pivotal force in the novel. His loss of identity involves his desire to wipe out the family's Judaism. But society has determined who he is and it isn't easy to become someone else.
I found this book uncomfortable—in so far as following the action. Often events felt like they lost their moorings and floated into a stream of consciousness. Peter's thoughts tended to hover and lose their logical narrative—but he is a child narrator.
What is intriguing is how a child's reality differs from the adult reality, thus fiction and imagination or fantasy meld and the reader is dependent upon her own understanding of events.
Read East 2011 Challenge