Breaking Stalin's Nose Book ReviewI’ll be the first to admit that my world history knowledge is about zilch.  I love history and know quite a bit about American history, but I never learned world history in school.  That’s one of the reasons why I love homeschooling; I learn right along with my kids.

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About the Book

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin is another book from Bookworm’s Bookshark 5 Eastern Hemisphere Core, and it is a very good, if frightening tale.

The story, which is a Newberry Honor Book, is set in Russia during Stalin’s reign.  The main character, Sasha Zaichik seeks nothing more than to join the Young Soviet Pioneers.  Since he believes his father is a distinguished member of the Communist Party, he knows that this will happen.  In fact, a ceremony is planned to induct all new Young Soviet Pioneers, and Sasha’s father was asked by the principal to be the guest of honor.  Sasha couldn’t be more pleased.

However, that night, Sasha’s father is taken away by State Security.  Sasha is left alone and is kicked out of his apartment by other residents of the cramped building who are eager to make the Zaichiks’ larger space their own.

Whereas Sasha had once been a privileged member of society, once his father is taken away, his whole world turns upside down.  He is no longer allowed to join the Young Soviet Pioneers.  In fact, he’s scorned by most of his teachers and his peers.

He finds out dark things about his own family, especially about how his American born mother might have died a few years previously.

My Thoughts on the Book

This book is definitely not a pleasurable read.  In fact, I found myself thinking more than once that I’m very glad I did not grow up in the USSR during this time.  The atmosphere portrayed in the book is one of incessant fear and (justifiable) paranoia.  You could never be sure when you might be reported for some minor infraction, real or made up.  People were constantly spying on and reporting one another.  When you find yourself on the outside fringes of society as Sasha did, the world becomes a very different place.

I enjoyed this read.  I believe that kids middle school age and up will, too, especially when one considers the many illustrations throughout the novel.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

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