Souvenirs from Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars
‘Russia has been trying to wipe Ukraine off the world map for thousands of years. They haven’t succeeded yet. Now, I’m picking up my stone and throwing it at Goliath. I want people to understand. I want to save this country.’ Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, March 2022
Larissa is a renowned embroiderer, surviving in occupied Ukraine during World War II as a seamstress in her ruin of a workshop. Surrounded by enemies, she expresses her defiance by threading history into her garments. But at what cost?
Mykhailo is a soldier on leave, returning to Ukraine from the front on Christmas Eve. As he travels through his country, he is confronted by the hardship the war has brought to his fellow countrymen. Will what he sees this Christmas change the course of his life forever?
Marusia and her family are woken early one morning by the arrival of the Nazis, who have come to search for her partisan brother. As the soldiers move through their house, her family has just moments to make choices that will determine their survival.
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s stories bring to life the true history of her Ukrainian family who fought to survive World War II. Laced with hope,Souvenirs from Kyiv celebrates the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.
Souvenirs from Kyiv was awarded 2nd Place in the 2014 HNS International Short Story Award and the collection won the silver medal in the IPPY Book Awards 2020 for Military and Wartime fiction.
As the current attack by the Russians upon Ukraine continues, Souvenirs From Kyiv illuminates the continuing hazard in that part of the world. This country has been in the path of battles and armies since recorded history. The Russians have attempted to draw them into their country for centuries. The citizens of Ukraine have suffered continually.
World War II found their male citizens being conscripted into the Nazi war machine. If they were unable to serve, they were kidnapped and forced to work on war materiel including bombs and bullets. The women were helping in the munitions factories as well and also conscripted to sew uniforms and other outfits including snow warfare camouflage gear.
Hiding some of the young men became the work of families. They would go to the forests and be part of the resistance. Families would take them in at very great risk to themselves. Should they be caught harboring these men, the whole family would wind up being shot. The Ukrainians also helped hide and protect large numbers of Jews. Harboring Jews was also a crime punishable by death.
Those members of the resistance saved many American and English pilots forced down in the fighting. The Ukrainians and Yugoslavian citizens helped to rescue the pilots as well as set up an underground system to spirit the pilots back to the west. Avoiding serving and being caught usually resulted in an immediate deployment to the Russian front.
The Ukrainians are not fond of the Russians. They hoped that the American forces would release their villages. The Russian troops had a reputation for gang raping the women and taking everything of value. The maturation of the war found the Ukrainian people praying the Allies would prevail and liberate their communities from the Nazis.
Starvation was a major weapon of the Third Reich. The cities were blockaded and farmers and foodstuffs were taken by the German soldiers for the Fatherland or to feed the troops in the area. Small barley or wheat soup was the staple diet for the average citizen during the war. 5 stars – CE Williams
We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.
Genre: Historical Fiction Short Stories, Historical Russian Fiction
Print Length: 159 pages
Publication Date: April 22, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Souvenirs from Kyiv [Amazon]
Barnes and Noble
Long-listed in the Flash500 Novel Competition 2017 for No Man’s Land/The Breach.
Winner of the Flash500 Short Story Competition with an extract from Bolzano.
Winner of the Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award Box and Box Set of the Year 2019 for the Reschen Valley Box Set.
A Discovered Diamond, shortlisted for Book of the Month July 2019, Reschen Valley Box Set
Reader’s Favorite 5-star reviews for Bolzano, The Smuggler of Reschen Pass, and Magda’s Mark (featured in The Road to Liberation Collection).
HNS International Short Story 2nd Place Winner 2014 for Souvenirs from Kyiv (short story in the Souvenirs from Kyiv collection)
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of “Nordeast” Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor’s desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. She has won several awards for her short stories and novels and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ended up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the “Reschen Valley” series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021, in parallel to her WW2 novels and short story collections.
For more on Chrystyna, dive in at inktreks(dot)com.
©2022 CE Williams – V Williams