Whisper of Hope, Cry of Despair
by Vicky Bedi

"She still berated me and called me names then. I nearly deliberately crashed the car twice . . ."

The American Dream has been an ideological construct for decades that has brought multiple families to the New World in search of a new life. The author's family was one of them. When her grandfather fled Russia after the fall of the czar in the early 1900s, Bedi's family began a new life—but one of hardship instead of happiness. Bedi depicts the hard labor, education, and general unpleasant living situations in the early decades of the 20th century through her family's stories. These hardships ultimately led to Bedi's difficult childhood, one filled with abuse and despair. In this account, she tells the story of her family plus her personal triumphs and failures.

Bedi's organizational style creates a smooth transition from each character's story to their relationship with the family as a whole. There is often information that is useful in one person's analysis that the reader first discovered in the analysis of another person. These facts add to the level of detail brought out by the author. She does an excellent job of not relying on the primary sources she has encountered but writes around them. This is done not to distract from the telling but to elevate it. If the author had chosen to take out all of the primary sources from the text, it is likely that she would still have the same level of passion in her telling as she does with their aid. Bedi’s research and depiction of her family come across as unique and personal. Many of these stories have been passed down orally from generation to generation, merging the written traditions of the modern world with those of ancient times. The conclusion is fifty years in the making, and the result can give readers of all backgrounds hope.

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