Win a copy of Anya’s War and other prizes! Details at the end of this post.

Anya inspected the first black page of her Book of Moons where she’d affixed the last photo Papa snapped in Odessa: of Anya shivering next to Mama and Georgi in the cold, in front of their old linden tree. Last January, she was still polite Anya of Pushkin Street, a good girl who talked a little too much but knew when to keep her mouth shut. For example, when her grandmother Babushka’s dumplings weren’t as delicious as their cook, Valentina’s; or when the secret police was patrolling her neighborhood because spies had reported anti-communist activity; or in case Mama was eavesdropping outside her new bedroom in Shanghai and might overhear her nightly prayer to God: Help me tell my mother, former diva of the Odessa Opera, I am too afraid to sing onstage.

The two black corners holding the family photo were slightly crooked, the way she had left them before her birthday lunch this afternoon. She had constructed the booby trap so if Babushka was snooping again, Anya would catch her. Babushka couldn’t leave anything out of place. In her rage for order, she would have reset the corners — despite Anya’s warning on page one:

To You,

who wish to spy

on my fond memories and deepest thoughts,

Read at your own risk!

Anya Rosen

Excerpt © 2011 Andrea Alban

About the book:

It is the eve of World War II. Anya Rosen and her family have left their home in Odessa for Shanghai, believing that China will be a safe haven from Hitler’s forces. At first Anya’s life in Shanghai is privileged and relatively carefree: she has crushes on boys, fights with her mother, and longs to defy expectations just like her hero, Amelia Earhart. Then Anya finds a baby, a newborn abandoned on the street. Amelia Earhart goes missing. And it becomes dangerously clear that no place is safe—not for Jewish families like the Rosens, not for Shanghai’s poor, not for adventurous women pilots. Based on the author’s family history, ANYA’S WAR is about finding strength within, when the world spins out of control.

What people are saying:

“An important addition to the literature about WWII refugees.”—Booklist Magazine

“… Anya’s Shanghai is richly chaotic, polyglot and packed with refugees. Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Mandarin Chinese and Italian pepper the dialogue… A delightfully textured glimpse at a little-remembered period of Jewish history.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Anya’s War by Andrea Alban tells a timeless story of love and danger in the setting of Shanghai, where many Jews fled to take refuge…(an) inspiring first novel of courage under duress.”—Maxine Chernoff, Poet and Author, Winner of the 2009 PEN Translation Award for The Selected Works of Friedrich Hölderlin

“This work of historical fiction is rendered all the more compelling by the integration of the author’s family stories. A fascinating read, Anya’s War gave me an insider’s perspective about this little known time in history.”–Kristin McCloy, author of bestselling novels Velocity, Some Girls, and Hollywood Savage.

Anya’s War is not just a terrific read but a loving act of cultural retrieval: the story of a Jewish girl and her family in Shanghai composed in spicy, effulgent, unforgettable prose and with vivid heartrending detail. A portrait of a bygone time and a forgotten exile, Andrea Alban is a major new voice.” —Alan Kaufman, author of Jew Boy

“Anya’s War is a powerful novel of cultures, adolescent emotions, aspiration, passion, fear and anticipation. Within it, we glimpse wartime China, its deep-seated traditions, structures, classes and beauty. (The book is)… rich with metaphor and reality, a powerful combination during an explosive era of world war and genocide. Alban’s writing style is structured, cogent and evocative.” —Charles Weinblatt, author of Jacob’s Courage, A Holocaust Love Story

Released: February 1, 2011 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan

About the author:

Andrea Alban’s debut novel Anya’s War was inspired by her Jewish father’s childhood in war-torn Shanghai, a little known passage in holocaust history.  She is also the co-creator with Lisa Burnett Bossi of nine books, greeting cards, and guided journals which draw on a love of family and nature’s wonders including The Happiness Tree (a Florida Children’s Book Award nominee), the bestseller, January’s Child: A Birthday Month BookTen Little Wishes, and Celebrating Motherhood.

A resident of San Francisco, Alban is a dynamic speaker at schools, museums, libraries and literary festivals throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Alban serves on the faculty of Book Passage and its annual Children’s Writer Conference, and coaches writers in the craft of fiction. You can visit her at


Andrea and her publisher have been kind enough to contribute two sets of prizes for a giveaway! Each set will include a signed hardcover of Anya’s War, “double happiness” chopsticks, a recipe for Li Mei’s piroshki, and “Chopstick Rules, according to Anya.”

To enter simply leave a comment on this post.

For extra entries:

-Be a follower of this site (just click “Join this site”) or a follower on Twitter [+1 entry each].

-Link to this contest on Twitter, Facebook, etc. [+1 entry per each link].

Please list your extra entries in the comments.

The contest is open in the US and Canada and ends on February 16th at midnight EST.

Good luck and happy reading!