Monday 8 August 2016

Red Stone

Finished August 2
Red Stone by Gabriele Goldstone

This children's novel draws on history, telling the story of a young girl and her family who lived as landowning farmers in the Ukraine during the 1930s, drawing on the real life of the author's mother. Katya is the oldest child in the family and as the book begins she has recently turned ten and it is the spring of 1929. Her aunt Helena married a Bolshevik within the last year and has come to visit, but Katya's father isn't diplomatic in his dislike of the new regime. The story of Katya and her family continues over the next two years and the regime tightens restrictions against religious beliefs, land ownership, and culture. The red stone of the title is a piece of stone from the base of the windmill on the farm that Katya's family owns. It is a symbol to her of security and strength.
As Katya, her mother, and her siblings are forced to a labour camp in Siberia, she finds that strength in herself and the stone is a reminder of her roots.
This is a story of sadness and destruction, but one based on real history. Some of my own family members experienced similar trials. I would encourage those whose children read this to discuss the book and the history to give context and answer questions that will arise.

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