Book - 2010
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Aliide Truu, an older woman guilty of crimes during the Soviet occupation of Estonia, takes in a young woman, Zara, who is trying to escape a sex-trafficking ring, and as they work through their suspicion, the two rediscover a tragic family history from the past.
Publisher: New York : Black Cat, c2010
ISBN: 9780802170774
Branch Call Number: OKSANEN
Characteristics: 388 p. : maps ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Rogers, Lola


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Jun 22, 2013

This book is kinda confusing it doesn't flow like most books, the author jumps time periods and such, it was a hard read to get into.

May 01, 2013

Beautiful book. A sad yet enthralling tale where no one appears to be a winner but it's still about redemption. Excellent.

Jun 25, 2012

I loved this book.

debwalker Dec 15, 2010

"A captivating book about two women with dark secrets and an underlying connection. Set in Soviet-occupied Estonia, this story introduced me to a land I knew next to nothing about. Oksanen skillfully weaves histories together to form a rich, complex novel."
Top 10 Books of 2010: Amber Elbon, newsletter/web producer

Nov 19, 2010

A thrilling story about a girl trying to escape bondage in Soviet Estonia. In the process the book delves into the lives of Estonians who are trying to navigate their way through the SYSTEM, not always in admirable ways.

quagga Aug 02, 2010

I love books that transport me to another place and I love lots of variety in my reading, which is why I find translations of international literature so appealing.

The story is set almost entirely in the countryside of Estonia, with a few scenes in Vladivostok and a few in Berlin. A map at the beginning shows the immense distance between Vladivostok, which is on the Russian coast north of China, and Estonia. The time period moves back and forth between 1992 and 1936 onward. The brief occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany, and then the years of Soviet occupation, followed by independence, have strongly shaped the lives of the two women that we meet.

Aliide Truu is in her late sixties in 1992. She lives alone in the house where she grew up. A desperate young woman, Zara Pekk, shows up on her doorstep in very bad shape after escaping from sexual slavery. Zara carries an ancient photo of Aliide and her sister Ingel. Aliide tells Zara that she has no sister. Their shared family history is untangled slowly, in spite of mutual suspicion and fear. Old and new atrocities are revealed.

Details of domestic life bring the setting vividly to life: the flyswatter made of leather; pickles prepared with horseradish; fruit drink made by melting jelly in boiling water and adding citric acid; bits overheard on the radio in the kitchen ("... Since there's no milk to give to our children, and no candy, how can they grow up to be healthy? Should we teach them to eat nettles and dandelion greens?") I've learned a little about a place I will likely never get to in person.

Both women are presented with psychological complexity. Their story is powerful, disturbing and, ultimately, redemptive.

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