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First half boring; but read it for the second half "Siege of Leningrad"
on February 1, 2017
**SPOILER ALERT IN REVIEW***
The book started off slow and felt very disjointed. I found the writing at the start to be elementary in style, not what I expected from a lawyer-turned-writer.
Daughter #1 's constant morning jogs, feed the dogs, visit the parents routine got stale. Daughter #2 by contrast flirted with death, war torn countries but apparently took Pulitzer Prize winning photos along the way. Money appeared to be no object as she flew here, there and everywhere.
These two stories interwoven with detailed 'recipes' of food 'Mom' kept in the freezer that we heard about page after page left me with the feeling that I was reading a cook book/diary rather than a novel. In fact, the recipes are included at the back of the book.
**SPOILER ALERT*** THEN Dad dies and the story takes a whole new twist.
Relationships change, ebb and flow, conversations that should have taken place decades before, almost overnight, begin to happen. Suddenly, the relationships between two sisters and mom are blooming and that is when the story starts to take on a whole new feel. Once Mom starts to tell her story...the style is a bit odd in that she speaks at first in a regular font and then midway through a sentence it becomes italics...for pages and pages which makes reading at first a bit of a strain....the novel changes and improves 100%.
Mom's 'Anya's" story is the real interesting story. The two daughters are plastic and predictable by comparison. Mom's story is detaileed in beautifully written text about the siege of Leningrad in WWII. It is hard, tough, dirty and relentlessly COLD. You can almost feel the cold and hunger. THIS is what makes this book great. Forget about the rest. Read it for Anya's story.
The end of the book is a surprise but borders on being hokey and unlikely. The author is interviewed at the end of the book and says she wrestled with the ending and mentioned a few of the choices she considered. The one she finally chose could have been improved upon.