Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: Breaking Stalin's Nose

Breaking Stalin's NoseBreaking Stalin's Nose
Eugene Yelchin
middle grade, historical fiction

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:

The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.

But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway.  And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.

Considering this book is both middle grade and historical fiction, I thought I'd love it. I was mostly disappointed. The story encompasses two days, and with such a short time there was no character development or fun anecdotes. Also, I felt Sasha had little depth- I didn't feel his heartbreak or confusion or any other feeling really. 

The plot was good- few twists I didn't see coming, and the novel apptly showed how Stalin and Communism was viewed by the people. I especially like the part where the teacher talked about how because Russia was the only real democracy, the students will now take a vote. Five minutes later, a student is punished for voting against the majority- this taken as being against the people. There were many examples of the brainwash that were presented well.

Setting obviously was beautiful- Russia <3 span="">
Writing- not to my taste. I wasn't pulled in at all. 

All in all? Not a satisfying read for me, might work for a younger kid though.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you didn't like this one. I read this and a very not children's book, Child 44 around the same time. The two ways of coming at the same sentiments about Russia really showed the condition there. I actually enjoyed both of the books. I think Yelchin did a pretty good job of not only showing what it was like to be Russian at the time and allow a modern audience to process just how different and alien that life would be to us.

    Child 44 was a murder mystery which highlighted that same compulsory viewpoint about the government and how much of a struggle it would be to make a difference without it making you an enemy of the state.


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