Which Way Is Home? is a thrilling novel by Maria Kiely. The book is set in post World War Two Czechoslovakia, a country that was then under the control of the Soviet Union. It is based on Maria’s family history and what she heard from her mother’s and grandmother’s stories about their lives.
The main character in Which Way is Home? is Anna, a fictionalized version of Maria Kiely’s mother. She lives on her family’s farm in Czechoslovakia, but as the reader quickly learns, Anna’s father was a British spy during WWII and did not want to work for the Communists, so he has already fled the country. Anna, her mother and sister will soon try to join him after an employee on their farm threatens to get the Communist government to take the farm from the family.
Which Way is Home? is a fast paced book to begin with, with an exciting and daring escape plot, but the second half of the book slows down dramatically and has far fewer thrilling moments.
Despite the change in pace, Which Way is Home? is enjoyable from start to finish. Kiely is especially good at showing and not telling what the characters are going through, like when a girl adjusts her posture around a boy, and the reader knows that the girl likes the boy.
It is also refreshing to read a book about WWII and the Cold War period that has a girl as the main character. Most books about war and about the past in Europe have boys or men in the lead role because they were the soldiers and leaders of the time.
It was very interesting and surprising to read about how disorganized and challenging life was for years after the war. Which Way is Home? begins in 1948, three years after the end of the war in Europe, and yet it is still nearly to send a telegram and know for sure that it will get through, or purchase basic food like sugar or butter. In school we mostly learn about WWII and then the Cold War in America and this instead covers the period in between in Europe and from the perspective of average people.
Which Way is Home? is exciting, informative and interesting. I definitely recommend it.