Title: Bear Season
Author: Bernie Hafeli
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Broken Bird Press
Genre: Literary Fiction / Fable
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About the Book:
It’s 1951, and Czeslaw Wierzbicki is on the lookout for a hero after losing his father in WWII. With his uncle who can’t seem to hold a job for more than a few months, Czeslaw sets out on a life-changing journey that takes him from Detroit to Edinburgh, in hopes of meeting Wojtek, the legendary Polish soldier bear.
It really isn’t that important to your enjoying this story that you realize that Wojtek is a real bear, and really was part of the Polish army in World War II, but his story is an interesting one and full of legend beyond the simple and rather dry recitation of fact provided to those who don’t speak or read Polish. What is important is the seamless integration of the search to reconnect with this bear and how it effects and 11 year old boy and his uncle in the years following WWII.
Czeslav is eleven years old, and lost his father during the war. His closest male relative is Uncle Izzy, a man coping with his PTSD from the war and grief over his losses from the bottom of a bottle. Frequently unemployed and prone to bouts of rambling dialog on the wonder that is Wojtek, Izzy has decided to follow his dream of meeting the bear and finding the answer to nagging questions.
Vaguely reminiscent of road stories that are considered classics today: this story provides a tale rich in seeking a dream, finding the importance in family and even coming to terms with grief. Throughout the story, Izzy’s kind hearted although misguided and often inappropriate attempts to help Czeslav work through his questions actually helps both characters find some sort of peace in their inner turmoil.
Hafeli has created a story that gently unfolds to reveal the core of humanity: the need for acceptance, love, and connection to others.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:
Bernie Hafeli graduated from the University of Michigan in 1972. In 2006 he received his MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. In between he wrote advertising, so you might say he’s been creating fiction all his life. In addition to Bear Season (Broken Bird Press, 2013), he’s published eight short stories and one poem in literary journals. “What stands out for me—both in how I became a writer and in how I became published writer—is how a seemingly bad experience (losing a job, having a novel rejected, losing an agent) paved the way for an extremely good experience. I’m sure this happens all the time, but in my life before fiction writing I rarely, if ever, noticed it. Now I’m on the lookout all the time. To paraphrase Henry James, ‘A writer should be someone on whom nothing is lost”.