Mourning a place is even more difficult than mourning a person. Losing a loved one is a tragic but inevitable part of human experience, but war is not. Seeing our familiar landscape sink into violence, we grieve for ourselves as we once were and we question what we have become.

Chapter Two, Page 22

In a nutshell

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In 2014, with a trip planned to visit her grandmother in Bereh, Victoria discovered a page in her great-grandfather’s diary speaking of a brother that disappeared in the 1930’s fighting for a free Ukraine. She became obsessed with recovering his story and continuously returned to her birth country in pursuit of it.

Book Club Notes

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This book was sadly a DNF for me. I got to page 106 but it was a struggle. When I decided to quit the read, I fast forwarded to the last few chapters, which passed by much the same as the first 106 pages.

I say sadly because Victoria Belim is a good writer, and she does a great job at evoking what being a Ukrainian is like and having political conflict woven through your identity.

This book is the other side of the thinking coin I was left with after reading Fling. Whereas I finished that book, without I doubt I can say it wasn’t a good book, whereas this undoubtedly was. I can recognize that my lack of enjoyment is a matter of personal taste rather than a reflection on the book. Not all good books are great, and not all bad books are unreadable.

To enjoy this book, you must either have a personal connection with Ukraine OR be the sort of person who is intensely interested in family history and uncovering hidden elements of your past. When it comes to familial history, I have the mindset of leaving the past in the past. I believe that if your parents or grandparents don’t want to talk about their traumas or want you to know about them, you should let them leave it where it lies. Everyone has the right to choose what to bring forward into their legacy and letting the dust settle doesn’t mean you are disrespecting or dishonoring your roots.

But that is me and there is beauty in feeling the other way. I think if you are plagued with the past and/or want to understand your identity, you will connect with this book on a deep level and might be inspired to go on your own pilgrimage.

Read If

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You have a personal connection with Ukraine or are intensely interested in family history and uncovering hidden elements of your past.

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Rating

5
Storyline – 5 /10
Writing – 9/10
Likeability – 5/10
Purpose – 3/10
Shareability – 2/10
5.0
5.0Overall Score
A note on our book ratings

Storyline: How good is the storyline? Is it believable and complex or does it make you shake your head in its ridiculousness?

Writing: How well written is the book? Do you find yourself wowed by the writing or unimpressed?

Likeability: Are the characters likeable, relatable, imparting something of value?

Purpose: Is there a clear purpose to the story being shared or is it better suited as a personal project for a family keepsake?

Shareability: How likely are you to share the book?

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