There are two stories in this book. One is of parents who returned to Russia (by then the Soviet Union), and the other is of a granddaughter who spent years to uncover what actually happened.
The author brings us into her family, as it were. We come to know and care about these people, especially her father, who perhaps gave up the most to return to New Jersey. His family’s plight is played out amidst a backdrop of bureaucracy (both US and Soviet), and the cataclysm of World War Two. The maps provided dramatically bring home the distances and difficulties faced by the family.
As the author sorts through it all, she comes to appreciate her father even more. This is a compelling story that deserves to be read. In many countries, there is a drift toward authoritarianism, either right or left. Not every family is as resilient as the author’s, and there is a lesson in this book.
At times the transition from the actual story and the author’s letters to her father created a little confusion in the narrative. However, as the story progressed, the reader was caught up in this fascinating account. There are books about the heads of state and leading figures, but the “view from below” of history is equally as important. And that is what the author delivers here.