Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You Are One of Them, by Elliott Holt

Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones are best friends, living in Washington, DC in the 1980s. Ten-year-old Sarah is worried about nuclear war, so she decides to write a letter to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. Jennifer writes one too, and it is hers that Andropov responds to, inviting the Jones family to Russia. Upon her return, Jenny becomes a celebrity, living Sarah behind; she and her parents are eventually killed in a plane crash.

Flash forward to Sarah having recently graduated from college. She receives a letter from a woman named Svetlana, suggesting that Jenny might be alive, her father actually a double agent working for the Russians before the Cold War ended. Curiosity piqued (and with no decent job prospects in sight), Sarah heads to Moscow to see what she can find out. The rest of the book relates her experiences in Moscow, with flashbacks to earlier periods in her life. Is Jenny alive or dead? Far be it from me to answer that question.

The premise of the book was intriguing, and I was curious to learn more about life in Moscow after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Overall, however, the book failed to deliver. (Another one I wish I had written down where I saw it recommended.)

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