Into Exile
by Elin Toona Gottschalk
Evershine Press

"All I knew at that terrible moment was that the only person in my life whom I loved was leaving me and I was going to be taken to Sweden by strangers."

World War II forever changed the lives of countless families across the globe, and a plethora of first-hand accounts have been penned by its survivors. However, the vast majority of the writings feature mainly those individuals who were from countries on one side or the other during the war. Far fewer books tell the story of people whose traditional ways of life were shattered simply because their country was a convenient waystation for the belligerents. In her excellent memoir the author gives her readers a poignant glimpse of how one Estonian family struggled to survive when war came knocking.

Elin's childhood was unusual from the start. Born in 1937 to parents who were actors, she was sent to live with her grandmother and great aunt. During most of the war years, she and her little family lived in an Estonia that was first under Soviet occupation and then under the control of Nazi Germany, but when the latter began to flee from the return of the Soviets in 1944, Elin, her mother, and her grandmother were swept along in the tide of refugees heading for the West. After a short time in Germany the trio eventually made their way to England where they had to face cultural changes, hardship, prejudice, and later in Elin's case, attempts by the Communists to draw the up-and-coming young writer back to a Soviet-controlled Estonia.

The author skillfully pulls readers into the growing mind of her younger self as she helps them experience through first a child's eyes, then those of a young woman the deprivations of war as well as the difficult aftermath for those forced to emigrate. Well-written, informative, and powerful, this superb memoir is not to be missed.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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