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Eva Underground

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The year 1978 has been a pretty good one for Eva Lott. She has a terrific best friend, she's dating the best-looking guy in school, and she just made the varsity swim team. So when her widowed dad says it's time for them to move, she's not exactly thrilled. And when he tells her that he intends to move to Communist Poland to help with a radical underground movement . . . Well, it's all downhill from there.

Soon Eva has been transplanted from her comfortable Chicago suburb to a land that doesn't even have meat in its stores, let alone Peter Frampton records. And everywhere she goes, the government is watching. But Eva begins to warm to her new life. Sometime between eating lard on bread and dodging the militia, she makes a handsome new friend, Tomek. And soon she is wondering if maybe she's found home in the most unlikely of places.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2006

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About the author

Dandi Daley Mackall

324 books272 followers
A professional writer for over 20 years, Dandi Daley Mackall has written dozens of articles for popular magazines and published around 500 books for children and adults alike, with sales of over 4 million.

A frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, she lives in rural Ohio with her husband, three children, horses, dogs, & cats. Awards include the Edgar Award for Best YA Mystery, the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children's Literature; Distinguished Alumni Award from Mizzou; ALA Best Book; Christian Children's Book of the Year, Amelia Bloom, Mom's Choice Awards. Her YA novel, My Boyfriends' Dogs, is now a Hallmark movie.

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5 stars
97 (35%)
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87 (31%)
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66 (24%)
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18 (6%)
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7 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews1,013 followers
April 23, 2010
I first read EVA UNDERGROUND back in January of 2007. It had been out about a year at that point and so it's certainly not an older book, but it is very underrepresented in my opinion. I can no longer remember exactly where I heard about it and I'm pretty sure I picked it up based on the strength of the cover alone. Take a look at that baby. Just gorgeous. And an actual scene from the book--one of my very favorite things. The fact that it was YA historical fiction set during the late 1970s in Communist-occupied Poland certainly intrigued me. You don't get many of those, you know? I had never heard of Dandi Daley Mackall before, but my library happily had a copy on the shelves so I went and checked it out immediately. And I'm still surprised at how little I see this book mentioned around the blogosphere because it's really rather lovely and a thoughtful, well-researched coming-of-age tale as opposed to an flimsy excuse to hook the main character up with a Polish hottie and gallivant across the countryside amorously. Not that I wouldn't read that book! Don't get me wrong. But, in the end, I infinitely prefer a realistic and resonant tale such as this one.

The year is 1978. Eva Lott is feeling pretty good about life in general. Her senior year is shaping up to be pretty close to perfect and she's just made the varsity swim team. Then her English professor father has to go and ruin it all by announcing that the two of them are moving. To Poland. Effective immediately. It turns out he's decided to join the underground movement and Eva has no choice but to tag along. She spends the first portion of the story coming up with increasingly far-fetched ways she can sneak back to the States or convince her father she has no business being in Poland at all. Meanwhile, her father settles in to teach his young compatriots about journalism as they work to smuggle an illegal printing press into their home in order to spread their message opposing the rampant oppression of freedom of speech and the Polish people. When Eva finds herself rubbing shoulders with political activists no older than herself, things take on a slightly different slant. And when she gets to know Tomek--one of the rebels living in the crowded house her father takes her to, Eva's perspective begins to change on so many levels it is difficult for her to take it all in and her life in Chicago seems a very far away, very tame place indeed.

Until I read this book, I knew next to nothing about the modern-day Communist occupation of Poland. Following Eva as she leaves her home and friends in Chicago to follow her father to Poland, sharing a tiny room with him in a house full of rebels, I found myself quickly caught up. Though she initially sounds and acts like the stereotypical clueless, privileged spoiled teenager, she becomes curious and sensitive to the culture and history of her new home once the importance of what is going on around her begins to sink in. Everything about this novel unfolds slowly. So slowly that you don't at first realize how involved you've become. But it's certainly a journey worth taking. Their initial border crossing is vividly tense and chilling. You feel, along with the entire group of rebels, the suffocation and knife edge intensity of the occupation. Eva learns that sometimes life takes you by the throat and hurls you bodily into the middle of a war zone. She learns there are things in that war zone worth fighting for, that her life can be bigger than it was, that the seed of a plum can hold the spirit of a nation. And the ending is worth every page that it takes to get there. I finished it both satisfied and moved. EVA UNDERGROUND is a wonderful read about a harrowing and fascinating period in history.
Profile Image for Tasha.
299 reviews37 followers
August 1, 2009
It's 1978 and Poland is still under communism's reign. The militia control everything from food to religion. How does this relate to American girl Eva Lott? Well her father has decided to uproot her from her perfect life in Chicago to a small village in Poland in order for him to lead an underground newspaper. Eva is devastated. She doesn't want to leave her amazing best friend and her awesome boyfriend, plus she just earned a spot on the varsity swim team. Eva is furious that her father won't let her stay with her best friend Melanie, but with no other choice she packs two measly suitcases and accompanies him on his journey. After an arduous and frightful trip, Eva and her father finally arrive in Poland and are greeted by Tomek. Tomek doesn't say much, but Eva finds him very handsome, although he seems very standoffish. He leads them to a house in Zakopane, Poland which will be the newspaper's headquarters. Tomek introduces them to all the other people living in the house, but Eva feels unwelcome and immediately starts planning an escape route. When it finally comes time to escape Eva feels that she has become used to Poland and it's strangeness. She also thinks that there may even be something pulling her towards Tomek. Will Eva stay, or will she go? Will her father be successful in creating an underground newspaper?

This book was okay. To me it started out a little slowly. It wasn't until about the half-way point that I really got interested in the story. I had never really read anything about the "Iron Curtain" in Poland and this really opened my eyes to what other people, who were not free, had to endure on a day-to-day basis. The romance that blossomed between Eva and Tomek was cute - it wasn't unexpected, but it was sweet. What can I say, I'm a sucker for love!! I have to say the historical facts were my favorite part of the book. They are the only things I really remember.
Profile Image for Vicki.
699 reviews16 followers
June 19, 2015
Wow -- this is a really well done, really inventive story. It's the late seventies, and Eva Lott and her father head to Poland to help a group of students and a subversive Catholic priest set up an underground publishing group. They learn how dangerous life is for the average Pole, and they learn what it means to be without the most basic freedoms. But what I think the book's real strength lies in Mackall's ability to create interesting situations, and feelings -- the relationships don't feel like cliches, and the scenes are really beautiful. Just wait until you get to the plum harvest.

A lovely story about love and loss of all kinds. Loved it!
Profile Image for Samantha Duncan.
61 reviews4 followers
June 19, 2007
YA book. Interesting look at communist Poland right before John Paul II became pope. I wanted it to be a little more in-depth, but it was just right for a young adult book.
23 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2018
Overall I thought this book was okay. I thought it was really sad how Eva had to leave American because she really did not want to. She had the perfect life, and although her mom passed away and things were rough for her and her father, she still had positives to live for in her life. Then, she is forced to move to Poland because that is what her dad wants. Once she moves to Poland she finally becomes accustomed to life there, and even beings to enjoy life there. She meets a man named Tomek who even tries to escape with her to help her father. She meets very many adults she can trust there and finally begins to like her life again. Then, in the end she is forced to move back to America. When she first had to move I felt very sympathetic for her and was happy when she was finally found a good friend and her and her father were able to find people she trusted. I was sad with how it ended because I did not like how she had to move back once she had created a new life for herself. Overall, it was a good book I just did not like how it ended.
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews193 followers
December 20, 2017
Mackall, Dandi Eva Underground, 256 p. Harcourt –

Eva’s mother has died and her father has dragged her from her comfortable American life and into the extremely poor and anti-democracy environs of Communist Poland of the 1970’s. While father tries to nurture a revolution, Eva tries to just survive the harsh, unfamiliar life that she has been thrust into. The events of this title are far removed from the students of today. This title might find a home in a large high school library, especially one where a faculty member actually discusses the events. It will need help finding its audience.

Profile Image for Rachel Rose.
32 reviews
August 12, 2022
Interesting concept and good incorporation of Polish language. Unfortunately even for YA fiction, very poorly written with many large plot holes.
February 24, 2016
Eva underground, written by Dandi Daley Mackall, is a story set in 1978 Poland. Eva Lott, the 18 year-old main character, is dating the best-looking guy in school, and she just made the varsity swim team. So when her widowed father tells her its time to move, she is not happy. (pg 2) It says "of course she wasn't all right". Eva wasn't just angry, but she was also very scared while driving through the gates with her father. The guards had machine guns and were worried about their own people escaping to freedom. (pg 3) She also missed her friends in America and wrote lots of letters to them. (pg 35) Eva Lott is having a pretty good senior year in Chicago, until her father says she must move away from her friends to communist Poland to help with a radical underground movement. The government is watching their every move, and Eva wants to go back to the states. Will she stay in Poland or will she escape? As she was considering her escape, "never once has she considered the possibility that a huge city like Krakow wouldn't have a flight home".

The novel is written in third person point of view. It allows you to see everyone's point of view and not just Eva's point of view. It describes conflicts between the characters so you can understand how everyone is feeling and not just the main character. The themes are change, family and adaption, because Eva had to leave everything behind, adapt to Poland, and change into a better person. While Tomek had to adapt to a spoiled american stranger in his home. The mood starts off all depressed because Eva's wonderful life is about to change and she doesn't know how its going to be. Towards the end it gets happier and hopeful because the two characters found friendship and she is beginning to think that she also found other people that can feel like family. I think this quote is the most important on pg 100: "But for the first time in a long time, in spite of everything, Tomek Muchowiecki felt hope". This quote is important because even though he should have felt scared, he didn't because when he was with Eva, everything was better when they were together.

The way in which I connect the most with Eva is that we both are very good swimmers and we both live in a community that we wouldn't want to leave. "She just made the varsity swim team", Eva earned a spot on the varsity swim team and had the perfect life, and was so furious that her father wouldn't let her stay with her best friend Melanie. With no other choice she packed two small, pathetic suitcases and accompanied her father on his trip. This book was pretty good. To me it started out a little slow, and it wasn't until about the first few chapters that I really got interested in this story. I never read anything about the "Iron Curtain" in Poland and this opened my eyes to what other people who were not free, had to go through everyday. I would rate this book out of a 1-10 as an 8, because this was one of the best historical fictions books I have read. Mackall does a great job of showing relationships, suspense, and characters that stay with you even after you're done reading. I would say this is for all ages from 10 and up, because it is pretty easy to understand and it is a really interesting book that anyone would love.

Happiness does not last forever...or maybe for some people it does. The climax of the novel is when Eva must leave and get on the train back to her home in Chicago, but Poland really grew on her. Before she must go, Eva and Tomek walk around the town once again so she will remember Zacopane and her newly made friends. (pg 230) "Could we go see Wawel one more time, Tomek?" The time went by so fast with each other. As she makes her way onto the train, she must make a quick decision whether she will go back to Chicago or stay and help put the movement back together. (pg 234) "The heart of Poland was beautiful! And in that moment she knew. She couldn't leave this country, not yet. She couldn't leave this man." So Eva runs back to Tomek yelling his name excitingly saying that she wishes to stay. (pg 236) "He ran as fast as he could toward her." Eva's father would be back soon and he would understand why she did not leave, and in the mean time they had plenty of things to do.
Profile Image for BOOK BUTTERFLY.
150 reviews50 followers
November 14, 2009
It's 1978 and Eva Lott is just your average American teenager getting ready to start her senior year of high school. That is, until her dad drags her kicking and screaming to Communist Poland. He wants to help the local people with a radical underground literacy movement and Eva soon becomes a part of that world. She learns that the average Pole does not have basic freedoms and that their daily lives are downright dangerous at times. Forget about good old American pepperoni pizza, rock-n-roll and freedom of speech. The government is always watching and listening, ready to suppress and control. Most people are poor, with little coal to heat their homes and even less to eat. (To paint a picture for you, bread with lard is something of a delicacy!)

If you were in Eva's shoes, wouldn't you want to hop on the next flight out of the country and get back to the good old USA? That was Eva's plan. Until she met Tomek. Ah...Tomek! The handsome, moody and so intelligent boy who draws her into his world and captures her heart. Through their unusual friendship, Tomek opens Eva's eyes to the sheer beauty of the Polish country and the brave struggles of those fighting for freedom and independence within.

I absolutely fell in love with this book. I think the romantic cover captured my heart from the start! I really enjoyed Eva's progression from your typical self involved American teen to the soulful, passionate person she became during her time in Poland. My favorite aspect of the novel, however, was the manner in which Eva's and Tomek's relationship unfolded. The believable, interesting situations were all beautifully woven through Dandi Daley Mackall's skillful narrative. Alternating the chapters between Eva and Tomek's point of view was a smart move. I think it allowed for a deeper connection to both characters with the way we were able to get inside their different mindsets. If you do read this novel, just wait until you get to the "plum harvest". Those chapters were my absolute favorite. I can honestly say I still carry them with me in my heart.

In a 2006 interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, Dandi Daley Mackall described how she based this book on her own experiences in Poland circa 1978. After reading Eva Underground, I could really appreciate the authenticity of the novel. It was evident to me that Mackall had her finger on the pulse of the Polish heart and soul. I also must admit, I knew little about what life was like in that tumultuous time period of history. Eva Underground really opened my eyes. I honestly felt like I was right there with Eva, suitcases in tote, following along in her footsteps. Eva Underground is a novel that should appeal to readers of all ages, with its romance, suspense and universal issues of freedom and hope.
Profile Image for Allison.
714 reviews413 followers
July 11, 2011
Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall takes us back to Communist Poland. Our main character, Eva, and her father travel there from Chicago because Eva's father wants to help the radical underground movement. Eva is angry and afraid - she has no desire to be a part of the group or be anywhere but home with her friends in Chicago. Slowly but surely, she becomes immersed in her surroundings and begins to understand the importance of what her father and his friends are trying to accomplish. She also quickly becomes interested in Tomek, the 19 year old translator.

I really felt like I got an inside view into a piece of history I had little to no prior knowledge of. I was impressed with the way Dandi was able to both keep things basic enough to be easily understood and intense enough to feel harsh and realistic. It doesn't take long for Eva to begin to face the harsh realities of life head on. As she becomes more interested in the people around her, she is introduced to her own shortcomings (namely, being a spoiled American) and ends up trying to grow into a person she can look in the mirror and be proud of.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when she travels with Tomek to his family's plum orchard. She initially goes only to try and get in with Tomek, but once she is there - she falls in love, not only with him, but with his family and community. She discovers the beauty of people - even when under intense pressure from the government and from the simple fact of being poor - she sees people refuse to compromise integrity, honesty and basic human decency.

This is not one of the books that is written in such a way that the reader becomes a part of the story. I always felt very much like an onlooker versus a participant. So, while I don't feel that the writing itself is extraordinary on its own, I do believe that the story it told is. There is a lot of intensity and tension packed into a fairly short book; I definitely recommend taking the time to read it!
Profile Image for Liz B.
1,685 reviews17 followers
August 19, 2014
This is a really good YA that has somehow been overlooked/ missed. I bought it a few years ago just based on the strength of the premise: an American girl goes to live in Communist Poland in 1978. Talk about unusual.

So I just got around to reading it myself--a colleague read it and liked it, and the kids have been liking it. And now I think we might need to buy out Amazon because I'm guessing it's out of print, since it never came out in paperback. And it should have!

The details of setting are fascinating and rich, and it is interesting seeing them through Eva's (spoiled American) eyes, which are--of course--our eyes as well. Nothing feels exaggerated; although Eva and her father are working with an underground group, the group is mostly about thinking and talking and writing (and coming up with a printing press). There are dangers, but they are not omnipresent.

This is a coming-of-age story and a romance,, and Mackall moves between 3rd person limited through Eva's eyes and the eyes of Tomek, a young Polish interpreter and college student. They both have some learning and growing to do, and there is a gradual and sweet romance that grows up between them. Although the reader part of me wishes this were a bit more developed (hey, I like romance), with more interaction between Tomek and Eva, the teacher part of me thinks that it's fine as it is, so that the story can be more about the time and place than about the romance.

Although the cover & content make it seem like a girl book, one of my colleagues says that boys in his class have liked this novel too. Now that I've read it, I think it will become one of my go-to historical fiction book club reads.
Profile Image for Sarah Gonzalez.
207 reviews38 followers
June 22, 2010
I only recently came across this book - I read about it at Angieville, where she featured it as a retro friday pick. I immediately ordered it from amazon. In the meantime I got a jump start on the book at google books. As soon as my copy arrived I tore into the book, I finished it that night. I cannot think of a single thing that I did not like about this book. I had not really heard much about the subject matter (1970's Poland) and I found myself fascinated with the new world in which Eva finds herself. The writing and story-telling is pure magic, none of the interactions between characters seems forced and the story seems believable. This is probably due to the fact that the author based the novel off of her own life. I loved watching Eva's character change and learn to see the world through different eyes. The book is filled to the brim with brilliant, delicate scenes that like I said before, are not overdone. I highly recommend this book to anyone who will listen!
Profile Image for Mia Searles (The Muses Circle).
315 reviews50 followers
August 5, 2010
My Review: I know the last few posts have been about movies so it's time for me to change things up a bit and review a book that I recently finished reading. Eva Underground is a young adult novel that is quite different from the norm. Or at least in my reality it is. I know the book was published back in 2006 but it seems in recent years that most YA novels are focused on vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and fairies (you get the point). While I love a good paranormal/supernatural story like the next person, I must admit that it's beginning to get hard to weed out the diamonds among all the coal (like that analogy? hehe). Sometimes I just need a break from the monotony. Eva Underground not only provided that but also took me back to the days when all I did was read historical romance and...

To read my complete review, please visit my blog here:

Profile Image for Laura (booksnob).
947 reviews37 followers
May 22, 2008
Eva is a typical American teen whose father makes a radical decision to move them to Communist Poland in the 1970's. This is a glimpse inside the world of communism in Poland when they were fighting for freedom and hope. Where small groups of people fought for small changes. I personally related to the story because I grew up in the 70's and am of Polish heritage. I remember when Pope John Paul the second became Pope but I had no idea the amount of hope he represented to his people in Poland. It is the small moments that make this book memorable.
Profile Image for Misti.
1,005 reviews61 followers
April 24, 2010
I liked this book. It's definitely YA and includes a sweet love story, but there's nothing wrong with that. I know very little about the time period (Poland, 1978) as I was very young then, but my favorite books are always those that show me different times and places that I will never experience in real life. Short book, and worth the couple hours it took to read.
Profile Image for MariaFernanda.
82 reviews
June 24, 2011
I fell in love with this book for its plot! The writing isn't anything particularly unique or reflective, but the plot is certainly charming. This is the only Dandi Mackall book that I like and I think it is because of the unique historical elements mixed with themes of family and some love! When I finished this novel, I was in a very happy mood!!
Profile Image for Kricket.
2,274 reviews
Shelved as 'abandoned'
March 28, 2013
the premise of this book sounded really good- teen girl accompanies widowed father to poland in the late 70s- but it is not capturing my attention at all.

bad luck with books involving communism lately.
Profile Image for Joy Marie.
137 reviews13 followers
March 30, 2009
This book gave a great look into routine life in communist Poland. The author did a great job of making the reader really understand what the people of Poland had to go through, and how they survived the opression. The love story was also sweet, and it was nice to see the changes in Eva!
Profile Image for Criss.
245 reviews
October 14, 2013
Great historical fiction that explores a time period seldom covered in young adult literature; Poland's fight for independence from the USSR. Told with an eye to specific details that underscores the author's personal involvement with the subject matter.
24 reviews3 followers
February 3, 2009
Confusing beginning but I guess it is supposed to be a very good book.
Profile Image for Amy.
22 reviews
April 5, 2009
great descriptions of the author's experiences behind the iron curtain many years ago- fiction, but the experiences are real. Great read for ages 12 and up!
78 reviews
August 23, 2010
It is a young adult historical fiction with a little dash of christian fiction (very little...but it's there).
3 reviews
October 21, 2011
I absolutely LOVE this book. It's easy for me to connect with Eva because we're nearly the same when it comes to personality.
1 review
March 12, 2012
First read this book when I was in high school and fell in love with it. Definitely one of my favorites.
Profile Image for Laura Bonham.
48 reviews
August 5, 2013
This was such a fantastic book! I was not expecting all of the religious persecution and I really enjoyed the details and the history in the book.
877 reviews4 followers
November 27, 2013
YA, Historical fiction, Poland behind the Iron Curtain, Catholicism, Priests, resistance to communism
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews

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