Savaged Lands by Lana Kortchik (Historical Fiction)
Savaged Lands tells the story of a family in Nazi-occupied Ukraine during World War II as seen through the eyes of the elder teen-aged daughter, Natasha. It is also a love story and a testament to human endurance and survival under the worst of circumstances.
In September, 1941, Natasha, her younger sister and brother, parents, and maternal grandparents are living together in Kiev when the Nazi occupation begins. An older brother is already serving in the Soviet Army. Things soon take a turn for the worse as German soldiers begin a brutal campaign against the citizens of Kiev, confiscating their radios and all of their food, commandeering their homes and their warm clothing, and subjecting them to continuous terror and fear. Jewish families, including that of Natasha’s best friend, are driven from their homes and marched through the streets, never to be seen again. Natasha’s father is arrested and sent to a labor camp. Her sister’s fiancé disappears. When the harsh Ukrainian winter sets in, things only get worse for those who remain. Meanwhile Natasha and a Hungarian soldier fall in love, a dangerous relationship for both of them if they are caught together.
Lana Kortchik is a gifted writer whose prose pulled me right in. Her knowledge of Kiev and its history made this an absorbing read, simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting because the suffering, the hardships, the losses, and the triumphs were real. She created well-developed characters with weaknesses I could understand, strengths I could believe in, and fates I cared about. I found myself reading this book late into the night.
Grandma gives Savaged Lands five stars.
Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.