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Julia Alekseyeva – Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution

June 19, 2017

30. Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution by Julia Alekseyeva (2017)

Length: 192 pages
Genre: Non-fiction; Biography/Memoir

Started/Finished: 15 June 2017

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’m pretty sure it was recommended on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, although I can’t find which episode it was.

To us it’s history.
To Julia’s great-grandma,
it’s all part of life.

Summary: Julia Alekseyeva’s great-grandmother Lola was born in 1910 to Jewish parents. She grew up poor but independent-minded, educating herself from books after she had to stop attending school to care for her younger brothers and sisters. Lola survived World War I, the Bolshevik revolution, the rise of communism, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and the Chernobyl disaster, and loved, lost, and interacted with a wide variety of Russians along the way.

Review: This was interesting – Russian history from a Russian’s perspective – but narratively it didn’t quite work for me. It was based on author’s great-grandmother’s memoir, so she may not have wanted to stray too far from Lola’s own words, but I think she still could have done a little more than the occasional vocabulary-defining footnote to flesh out the context for those of us who are less familiar with the relevant history. I also think the narrative connection between the historical story and the modern-day autobiographical one didn’t quite connect. The author tells us of how similar she and her great grandmother were and how they had this connection and how their worldviews were similar, but it’s all tell and no show – we don’t see enough of the author’s life to judge whether or not this is true. (Not that I wanted to, necessarily; the great grandmother’s life interested me much more than that of a self-described millennial artist.) I do see the use of the framing story, but although it clearly has emotional weight for the author, it’s not developed well enough to have that same sort of heft for the reader. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I think this book is best for its glimpse into the daily life of people living through what we tend to think of as broad sweeping historical events. The closest read-alike that I can think of is probably Persepolis, although this one doesn’t feel quite as rich or as full as that did.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Couldn’t find any at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Family is an odd thing.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 19, 2017 9:20 pm

    I like the unique perspective of this book and would love to read it.

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