Wait And Hope
The Story Of Us by Lana Kortchik is a powerful and heart wrenching historical novel that will have the reader reaching for the tissues.
It is an epic read set in 1941 –1943 surrounding the occupation of Kiev by the Nazis. It was a brutal time as lives were terrorized, starved, beaten and snuffed out. The population fell drastically during that time. The characters are fictional but with Lana Kortchik’s attention to detail, they feel very real. The reader empathises with their loses and hardship but really, in our twenty first century world, we have no idea of what they went through. It was far worst than our imaginings.
Living in the west and as ahistorian, I have studied Russia from 1900 and into the Cold War era. It wasfar from an easy place to live but the people always saw Stalin and the RedArmy as their saviors. For an oppressed people where religion was frowned upon,some still turned to God. “Faced with a crisis, people turned their eyes to God, as if He was their only hope.”
War devastates lives on all sides. “What a waste this war is… for our people as well as the Germans.” There are only losers in war, no one really wins. “They were the eyes of an old man on a young man’s face.” You can never ‘unsee’ what you witnessed. It will haunt you forever. War ages people.
The Nazis were cruel and oppressive. “There are Nazis and there are Germans. Big difference.” Not all Germans were Nazis. There were pockets of kindness in war.
The novel is a beautiful love story. Some loves are forbidden but love blooms where it will, it does not ask a nationality. As love blossoms, the reader wonders where it will end up.
We all face choices. “There’s always a choice.” In war time, our choices may bring life or death. We must choose as our conscience dictates but “hunger is a powerful motivator.” In times of war our moral compass may be set off course, especially when it concerns our children. “You can’t settle for a safe option just because you’re afraid of getting hurt.” Sometimes we have to take a risk.
The Story Of Us is so powerful. The reader gets a glimpse into the world of terror that occupation brings. The people of Kiev were brave and resilient. They did not crumble. They lived on the hope of tomorrow. Many perished. Few survived. Thank you Lana Kortchik for highlighting the plight of the brave people of Kiev and producing an excellent story of this little known event.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
As an aside… this novel is particularly close to my heart as my uncle came from the Ukraine. He suffered at the hands of the Nazis and spent time in a concentration camp. At the end of the war, he was given the choice of going to Britain or America. He chose England. He never spoke of the war years. As I read, I saw this book as a tribute to him (and millions like him). Thank you Lana Kortchik.