Exiled to Siberia. After several weeks on a train, “enemies” of the Russian state have been dropped off to be forgotten in this nearly empty five million square miles for four hundred years. Ten-year old Esther Rudomin’s parents and grandparents are accused of being capitalists by the occupying Russians in 1941. They are yanked from their life of luxury and privilege in Vilna, Poland one morning and thrown into cattle cars with nothing but what they can carry. They end up being “lucky” for they are Jewish and the Germans who invade soon after did not practice the art of exile.
Esther spends the next five years in Rubtsvosk, Siberia. Extreme cold, constant hunger, filth, and fear are her constant companions. Yet she can still fret, like any young adolescent, about fitting in with her peers to the point that she will sacrifice food if it means she will belong. She creates, through pure force of will, the early teen years that she desires and when it is time to leave, she experiences the separation anxiety any teen feels when they must leave the first world they have created for themselves.
This is a story of resilience, pride, and determination, an intimate portrait of one slice of a significant time in relatively recent history. Girls from about fifth grade up to early high school will appreciate this story.