Like a River from its Course by Kelli Stuart
My review: 4 of 5 stars
Like a River from its Course begins intensely with a bombing raid, so the book is immediately arresting. The tragedies and horrors that unfold as the Germans invade the Ukraine are reflected through four characters experiencing a myriad of emotions and reactions. Three of the narrators are Russian citizens and one is a young German Nazi. The author personalizes the stories in such a way as to cause the reader to experience events as the characters do. I felt the horror. I felt the fear. And later, I also felt the hope. The book is well-written and obviously well-researched. Though the characters were fictional, their experiences were compiled from those of real people. The reader feels this in the way the stories are told. My only complaint is that I was left hungry for more information. Stuart obviously knew the history of the Babi Yar event quite well, but it was also clear that she knew other historical truths about the war in the Ukraine that she only shared a bit of in the book. The Ukrainian nationalists or rebels were mentioned only once when a character expresses the opinion that they were worse than the Nazis. The author also mentions, almost as an aside, that some in the Red Army could be trusted and others could not. No other details were given about this, and I was disappointed that the author didn’t share more. While each character is fully fleshed out and their experiences detailed and well-told, the overall war raging around them was not always as clear. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating, emotional read that kept me turning the pages well into the night. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in WWII historical fiction. In fact, I already have a friend in the wings waiting to borrow it.
“This cruel age has deflected me, like a river from its course. Strayed from its familiar shores, my changeling life has flowed into a sister channel” – Anna Akhmatora, Leningrad 1941 (title quote).
“I forgot the melody that joy could make like a summer song on a rainy day, exhilarating, and fresh” (p. 134).
“You don’t have the power to create perfection” (p. 300).
“Life is a series of trials, all strung together by moments of beauty. But when the string of joy and beauty breaks, what is left to hold life together if there is no God?” (p. 300)
Kelli Stuart on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellistuart
Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kellistuartauthor/
Author’s Website: http://kellistuart.com/books/like-a-river-from-its-course/
Please note, in accordance with FTC guidelines, I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Video Of Babi Yar, Ukraine – Jewish Holocaust Massacre