The Girl in the Water
by Joseph Howse
Nummist Media

"You have an inherited desire, to live as others do not live, like the characters of literature."

Nadia lives in the Soviet Union with her parents and sister Nastya. The Soviet empire has begun to crumble as the Cold War is reaching its apex. The reign of President Mikhail Gorbachev is in full swing, and perestroika has shifted the political and economic landscape. Nadia is intelligent and has a bright future ahead of her. As she is in her mid-teens, her parents opt to have Nadia live with her grandmother. Nadia is crestfallen at leaving Nastya, but she gets to learn more about Gramma in her new home. Gramma was a soldier during the Second World War, and her spirit has never wavered. Nadia returns home to discover that Nastya is married and expecting a child. The world is changing, and Nadia ponders her own place in it.

The life of a young woman attempting to distinguish herself in an authoritarian world is just one aspect of this interesting story. The emotional element of her maturity is coupled with concerns about her homeland, primarily the accident at Chernobyl and the disastrous war in Afghanistan. Initially, Nadia is envious of the relationship her sister Nastya has developed with Detective Giorgi Licheli. However, she witnesses the domestic discord firsthand and realizes married life isn’t necessarily ideal. Nadia’s perspectives about life grow with each new living situation, whether with her parents, grandmother, sister, or friend. The key to Nadia’s progression towards self-assuredness lies within these transitions. This is a winning story with a great deal of heart and a more than satisfying conclusion.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

A 2024 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Short List book, E-Book Fiction Honorable Mention, and a da Vinci Eye & Montainge Medal Finalist

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