Genre: Historical fiction
Published: September 6, 2011
Source: for review
When 16-year-old Minna Losk journeys from Odessa to America as a mail-order bride, she dreams of a young, wealthy husband, a handsome townhouse, and freedom from physical labor and pogroms. But her husband Max turns out to be twice her age, rigidly Orthodox, and living in a one-room sod hut in South Dakota with his two teenage sons. The country is desolate, the work treacherous. Most troubling, Minna finds herself increasingly attracted to her older stepson. As a brutal winter closes in, the family’s limits are tested, and Minna, drawing on strengths she barely knows she has, is forced to confront her despair, as well as her desire.
I think the beauty with this book was this quietness over it, this stillness and contemplation that what happens happens. Which also makes this one hard book to rate, because even if I liked the story and so on I would rate it one way. But then I look at the writing and the feeling and it has to have a better rating. Because it is just good.
The story is about Minna who is a servant in Odessa, bad times being a Jew there, or anywhere for that matter. So she signs with an agency and becomes a mail order bride. Poor Minna has hopes for a better life and she is not prepared for the harsh life of a farmer’s wife. She could have managed but the thing is that her new husband is no farmer. He knows nothing at all and he is very strict orthodox and the farm suffers because of it. Well the hut, the mule, the cow and a little field that makes up the farm. But there is freedom there, freedom to be themselves. And this in a land where there is another people worse off than they are. The story is good, and I liked Minna and her silent suffering. Her husband is a good man, just too good and clueless. Her stepsons are nice too, but there we get the little bit of drama, attraction. Not to mention a winter of suffering as they have no food and it’s cold.
The only thing I did not like was the end, it was ok, but that was just it. We got a little insight in what happens in her life. But I was not happy. Still, why should I be, she seemed happy and that is all that matters.
It is a book I recommend, because in the end I have not read a book like this. Yes sure I have read books about pioneers, but not about Jewish pioneers, and rules brings another dimension to this new life. Neither did I know about the am olam movement. And I do like a book that manages to teach me something too.
In the end, it is the author’s voice that I like, and it is a great debut.
Not for me, the inner pic is really nice though