i enjoyed push not the river. it's a sprawling saga based on the diary of a real polish countess, Anna Maria Berezowska, beginning as she loses both of her parents to tragedy. she goes to live with her mother's sister, her aunt stella and uncle leo, and her cousins, walter and zofia. there is great political unrest in poland, and anna's troubles mirror the unrest. i found anna to be an interesting character, yet she was almost too perfect, falling in love with the "boy" from next door, and pining for him throughout the entire novel, and always doing the right thing. zofia, on the other hand, was a much better realized and compelling character. anna refers to her cousin as shape-shifting, and she truly is. while she always operates to her own advantage, she commits more than one truly selfless act...AND while insanely jealous of her goody two shoes cousin and her love for jan stelnicki, she protects her in many, many ways. while i think martin does a fine job of creating a novel around the events depicted in berezowska's diary, i did find some of the narrative rather clunky. i would like to have given it four stars, but felt it dragged in a few parts, and again, felt anna to be a tad too naive...yet to be fair, she does grow as she faces war and imprisonment. i look forward to reading the sequel, against a crimson sky.