Home » Historical Fiction » Review : The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken

Review : The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken

We’re delighted to be sharing Elena’s thoughts about The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken.

A share of proceeds will be donated to DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

Jera’s Jamboree receives payments for affiliate advertising. This is at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As a Cratejoy affiliate I earn if you click on a link and shop from my link. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

book cover for The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken.  A young woman holding a sheaf of corn behind her book stands in front of barbed wire overlooking a wheat field
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09V2BDWVV
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Boldwood Books (16 May 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 887 KB

In the 1930s, Stalin’s activists marched through the Soviet Union, espousing the greatness of collective farming. It was the first step in creating a man-made famine that, in Ukraine, stole almost 4 million lives. Inspired by the history the world forgot, and the Russian government denies, Erin Litteken reimagines their story.

In 1929, Katya is 16 years old, surrounded by family and in love with the boy next door. When Stalin’s activists arrive in her village, it’s just a few, a little pressure to join the collective. But soon neighbors disappear, those who speak out are never seen again and every new day is uncertain.

Resistance has a price, and as desperate hunger grips the countryside, survival seems more a dream than a possibility. But, even in the darkest times, love beckons.

Seventy years later, a young widow discovers her grandmother’s journal, one that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her family’s haunted past.

This is a story of the resilience of the human spirit, the love that sees us through our darkest hours and the true horror of what happened during the Holodomor.

Track of your Book Stats up to 2030 and Beyond

With its easy-to-use layout and user-friendly design, this Google Sheet Template will help you organize and keep track of your reading.

This spreadsheet holds all the information you’ll need in one place for paperbacks, hardbacks, eBooks and audiobooks. As well as the usual stats of Title, Author, Date Published and reading progress, this book review template has data and ratings for the following:

  • series title and number
  • characters
  • atmosphere
  • writing
  • plot
  • pacing
  • world building
  • enjoyment
  • grading / star rating
Overview and Google sheet from a reading tracker

Download your copy today and keep a record to transform your love of books into an organized and enriching experience.

Book Review

Set in Ukraine in the early 1930s, this book tells the story of Katya and her family. In the present day Cassie and her family live in Illinois. The dual timeline takes us from the horrors of the Holodomor, when Stalin’s regime forced the collectivisation of farms across the Soviet Union and one family’s fight for survival, and the present day where Cassie has to learn to live without the love of her life.

Katya’s story is powerful. The hardships the Ukrainians had to endure at the hands of the Soviets is inconceivable and brutal and in the midst of it is a beautiful love story which helps propel Katya forward when it would be understandable to give up. Forced into famine with her family along with the rest of Ukraine, she must find a way to survive.

Fast forward to the present day and Cassie is learning to live without her husband while navigating motherhood. In order to move on with their lives they move in with Cassie’s grandmother, Bobby. Bobby is Ukrainian and with dementia setting in she needs looking after as well as to tell a story which has long since been buried.

The Memory Keeper of Kyiv is breath-taking, emotive and at times difficult to read.

The human suffering involved at the hands of the Soviets is appalling and now we are seeing a similar thing play out on the world stage which brings these issues sharply into focus.

I loved Katya and found her strength inspiring.

Beautiful characters and ultimately, hope for a better future, make this a five-star read for me.

About the Author

Erin Litteken is a debut novelist with a degree in history and a passion for research. At a young age, she was enthralled by stories of her family’s harrowing experiences in Ukraine before, during and after World War II. She lives in Illinois, USA with her husband and children.

Twitter @ErinLitteken

Leave a comment