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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making Their Way

Living in Stalin's Soviet Union is almost unfathomable for me. I cannot imagine how people could treat neighbors and colleagues with vicious cruelty, seemingly unconcerned for the hurt caused by their actions or words. But I was there last night with Arcady, a young boy who loves soccer, and a man called Ivan Ivanych who comes to the children's home to adopt him. Arcady's life would be unbearable for most children: rationed food (dispensed by a rotund guard nicknamed Butterball), horrible conditions, and no affection. Underlying the horrors of the home is the knowledge that he and the other children living there are children of enemies of the state. Still, Arcady notes, "Ask what our parents have done, and each one of us would say our mom and dad were good." (p. 17)

Despite the awful circumstances, Eugene Yelchin's book is filled with love and understanding, and his artwork adds strong emotion to the powerful text. Arcady yearns for a chance to belong. Ivan Ivanych exudes patience and compassion. These two come together in an unlikely manner, each with his own expectations and hopes. In time, each begins to understand their lives and options differently, accepting how they can fit into each other's lives.  Arcady observed this after just a short while with Ivan: "I never looked at a bird longer than it took to aim a rock at it. But now with my belly more than full I'm thinking what's the harm in birds? I bet it's good to be one. To know someone is making you a home." (p. 70)

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a very compassionate & historical book, thank you again for the recommendation. It gives me something to think about for personal reasons...