The Memory Keeper Of Kyiv by Erin Litteken

Powerful And Horrifying

The Memory Keeper Of Kyiv by Erin Litteken is a powerful dual timeline novel that will educate and horrify you, whilst totally consuming you.

The novel is set in 2004 in America and from 1929 into the 1930’s in Ukraine. The reader hears of Stalin’s program of collectivisation and his plans to eliminate the kulaks (so called richer peasants). As a historian I had studied this subject but it seemed even more shocking and horrifying to read about the atrocities in a novel. I think that is because the macrocosm becomes the microcosm as we focus in on a community.

The two time periods are linked by a character and her diary. She has kept her early life a secret due to the fear as Soviet arms are long. Now it is time to share her story.

The losses are immense. The modern reader just cannot comprehend the horrors of the Holodomor as over eight million lost their lives through a man-made starvation program and a reign of terror. We see the will and determination and luck needed to survive in spite of many losses.

In the modern half of the tale there have been losses too. Characters wade through grief. “There is no time limit on grief.” Each journey through grief is unique.

Family is important. Family are those who love, support and self-sacrifice for their loved ones.

Incidentally my uncle was born in 1922 in Ukraine. He lived through some horrors under the Russians and then the Germans. He never talked about the horrors he had seen. This book really resonates with me. I read it, thinking of him.

The Memory Keeper Of Kyiv is a powerful, horrifying but necessary read. It is awful to see that nearly a hundred years later in 2022, we have not learnt from the lessons of the past, as history is repeating itself.

I received a free copy via Net Galley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.

JULIA WILSON

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