Through Fire and Over Water
by Maria Krechowec
Xlibris NZ

"He said I had to see this big wide world and may be [sic] learn one or two things, because staying home by myself I would stagnate."

Life in Yankivka, Ukraine is decent for Maria Krechowec and her family. They have a plot of land they can live off of, and there is very little unrest. But social upheaval in 1929 changes all that with Stalin’s rise to power and the implementation of the Holodomor, followed by the German invasion during World War II. Maria’s life is turned upside down, and soon every decision she makes will determine her chance of survival.

A story of perseverance and hope through the terrible atrocities of government corruption and war, this autobiography speaks to the strength of the human spirit and will. Translated posthumously by the author’s son, the book reads like a diary, giving an unfiltered look into life in the Ukraine under Stalin’s regime in the ‘30s as well as the many hardships Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans faced as displaced persons during World War II. Krechowec’s storytelling jumps around a bit as she recalls her past experiences, which is sometimes hard to follow. A mention of a family friend, for example, might lead to another entry about that friend’s marital problems, but Krechowec always manages to bring it back to the topic at hand.

Krechowec and her family’s experience of sacrifice, suffering, and displacement are a reminder of the cruelties of war, and how it is always the common people who must pay the price. Yet, the book is also a story of survival and of human kindness in dark times. Maria’s journey “through fire and over water” to find peace and stability is heart-breaking, inspiring, and an insightful look at human nature.

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