Review: The Wildcat Behind Glass by Alki Zei

The Wildcat Behind Glass cover image

Fascism was gaining ground in Greece in the 1930s, but young Melia and her sister Myrto are more concerned about visiting their summer home by the seaside, where they run free with friends and don’t have to worry about school lessons.

The politics of the day intrude anyway, and they soon learn that their beloved older cousin Nico is wanted by the government for his role in resisting the change from democracy. Melia misses the stories Nico tells of the taxidermied wildcat at their home, and the adventures he goes on. Soon the wildcat becomes a conduit for notes between Melia and her cousin, notes that can help keep him safe.

The Wildcat Behind Glass by Alki Zei was published to acclaim in 1963. This fresh English translation tells about a volatile time in recent history as seen through the eyes of a young girl. Melia doesn’t understand the intrigue that swirls around her. She does know that her grandfather is in trouble for loving books, and her cousin must be protected.

There’s tension in the family when Myrto is chosen to join the dictator’s youth organization, and everyone wonders if she can be trusted to keep secrets. It’s an interesting look at how a society can quickly change from a democracy into a dictatorship, where everyone is afraid they will be singled out for saying the wrong thing. And where resistance came at a high price.

I recommend The Wildcat Behind Glass for readers aged 11 and up.

The publisher provided a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

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