by Emiko Lyovin
Trafford Publishing

"Had she taken Leonid's advice to wait for the return of the armored train, Valentina would have been forever stuck in Russia; it was December 1919."

This is a nonfiction story of a woman named Valentina who was born in Russia at the turn of the 20th-century during the reign of Nicholas II. It traces her life through the waning days of imperialism to overthrow, revolution, war, and communism. Her family lived in St. Petersburg where her father was the ordained Russian Orthodox cleric at a chapel. The family lived a comfortable life and her father had served at an event attended by Tsar Nicholas. Things were about to change. Two revolutions began in 1917: the February Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution in October.

Two years later, she is married to a military officer. She is supposed to meet him at a train station but ends up on the wrong train. Another soldier saves her life by telling her to pretend to be asleep when the train makes an unscheduled stop. The passengers who got off the train at that point are shot. When she arrives in the city where she is to meet her husband, she walks through the streets amid gunfire. Her husband finds her, and they leave together. If she'd taken the easy way out and returned to a friend's home instead of going to the station, she would have been stuck in Russia.

The story moves quickly through the country's involvement in World War II and the birth of the U.S.S.R. under communist rule. The author, who is Valentina's daughter-in-law, gives readers a you-are-there look at history as it unfolds. Lyovin presents Valentina's life as a story instead of presenting a textbook-style timeline. Well-written and easy to understand, it is an interesting read for adults and a worthwhile book for high school and college students studying world history.

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