- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Blooming Tree Press (Jan. 16 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1933831146
- ISBN-13: 978-1933831145
- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 1.5 x 20.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#1,008,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #213 in Books > Children's Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Holocaust
- #762 in Books > Children's Books > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Military & Wars
- #5184 in Books > Children's Books > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Friendship, Social Skills & School Life > Emotions & Feelings
The Kulak's Daughter Paperback – Jan 16 2010
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From the Back Cover
Olga likes little things - especially the tiny apples in the orchard in the spring, or her baby brother's little toes. But when her family is labeled 'Kulak' and exiled to Siberia, she starts to hate little things - especially the bedbugs that overrun the barrack at night, or the lice that carry the dreaded typhus. Suddenly Olga's little world is overwhelmed by Stalin's big plans.
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The Kulak's Daughter is about a young girl and her family who are deemed "kulaks" -- or enemies of the people -- because they oppose communism.
The novel is based on the life of the author's mother and the details and anecdotes ring true. This is not an era that many people in the west know about. The story predates the Holodomor (Stalin-orchestrated famine that killed millions of Ukrainians) by three years. While I knew that ethnic Germans were not treated well in the Soviet Union during Stalin's time, I had no idea that they were deported en masse to Siberia where most were worked to death.
This is a well-told story and it reads almost like a memoir. It is an assured first novel and the reader easily steps into the shoes of Olga, the oldest daughter.
The parallels between Stalin's gulags and Hitler's concentration camps are chilling.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The Kulak's Daughter and her 2 surviving sisters lived in our neighborhood. We knew them personally.
They were the most serious, sincere and respectful young Ladies you could ever meet.
An Eye opener to those who do not yet believe that a Government of the People and for the People is yet the
best so far established by Civilization.
Though this is a story that is more heartbreaking than anything else, it is also beautifully written, a tale that highlights the plight of families called "kulaks" under the Stalin administration in the early 1930s. These families, who were considered threats to the new government because they refused to turn over their farms to become collectives, were exiled to transition camps, work crews, and other temporary barracks around the country. Olga, the eleven-year old main character in The Kulak's Daughter, finds herself and her family one of the many who end up at Yaya, a Siberian transition camp, in 1930.
The beginning of the story, though, takes place on Olga's family farm, where she lives a simple, enjoyable life with her parents and siblings, her school friends, and her beloved pet dog. It is only as the Soviet government changes - and her father's beliefs do not - that all is torn away from her. The barracks where she ends up spending miserable months bear a stark resemblance to the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and Goldstone does an excellent job of painting a bleak picture of this reality in a manner that's still appropriate for its middle grade target audience. The minor characters are all well developed, from Olga's little sisters to her brother Albert to the quirky but lovable Sasha, who befriends her at Yaya. Goldstone's details bring to life the darkness and desolation of a place where lice and typhus ran rampant, and where trying to maintain some kind of hope and dignity was almost impossible.
The fact that this book is based on a true story makes it even more heart-wrenching. It is a gem of a historical novel, and I recommend it highly. While it isn't all sad and depressing - hang in there for an uplifting ending - the Historical Note at the end suggests that Olga's character faced much more in the years that followed her time at Yaya. I do hope that this author is planning a second novel about those years, because I will definitely read it.
If you do not know anything about this period in history - and I did not - you will find a true education in The Kulak's Daughter of what happened to millions of Russian families under the Stalin regime in 1930/1931. Bravo to Gabriele Goldstone for bringing this story to life!