Book: Blackbird Girls (2020)
Author: Anne Blankman
Genre: MG, Historical (1986/1941)
Opening lines from the book …
Valentina wondered where the birds had gone. They weren’t waiting on the sill when she went to the sitting room window that morning.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…
1) This book is set in the Soviet Union and goes back and forth between 1986 and 1941. Of course, at one point, the characters in each time period merge. I really enjoyed seeing that happen. I know quite a bit about life in the Soviet Union as my grandmother grew up there. The parts set in 1986 were less known to me, but I found them equally as interesting.
2) This book is about Chernobyl. (Can’t you tell from that cover?) I’m fascinated by this topic, although this is the first book I’ve read about the disaster that occurred in 1986. The opening chapters deal with what happened. I was riveted! The author did a wonderful job in pulling us in, especially with regards to all the lies that were being told (or not told) in the wake of the nuclear disaster. The Soviet Union was a place where fear reigned. From the whisper-campaign of neighbors against neighbors to the ever-present threat of the secret police, I felt this story got that right.
3) I love how the two main characters, Valentina and Oksana, are not at all friends at the beginning of this story. It sets us up for some wonderful conflict between the two. I love the uneasy-alliances trope in books. The book also flashbacks to 1941 where we meet Rifka. She’s Jewish and must escape the arrival of the Nazi army as it invades the Soviet Union. Of course, at one point all three of them come together.
4) The title was quite interesting. I was interested to see how it developed. It has to do with how the two girls end up standing up for one another.
5) I loved the author’s note at the end of the book explaining how this is story is based in part on a friend’s experiences. I usually like authors’ notes, and this one did not disappoint!
There are not so many books about the Soviet Union. Because of my grandmother, I definitely am drawn to them. But I think this is history that we need to know, whether or not we have a connection.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…