Cover Image: Ukrainian Portraits

Ukrainian Portraits

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Member Reviews

This is abook about the war that is devastating a european country, Ukraine, while Europe (and the world) stands by, watching (a familiar attitude, may I add).
Sonkina transfers us at the Polish border, at the beginning of the war and presents to us the people that are affected by it; immigrants looking for safety and a temporary home till they are able to return. I found the personal stories of the people she met very touching and heartbreaking, and her efforts to console them a tad naive. I do agree with her, and hope that Ukraine will prevail, but I wanted to read less of her own thoughts and more of the people in the camps.
An interesting read overall.

Thank you, NetGalley and Guernica Editions, for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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This book is written like someones diary of their experiences working with refuges on the boarder of Ukraine — the stories she heard from the refuges —boils the blood — and makes you feel helpless — and makes you wonder what you yourself would do when faced with such situations . An example and narrative of history as it happens — we have to ask ourselves — why do we allow history to continue to repeat itself. It was wonderful though to read about the work that volunteers did and the stories heard from the refuges on the borders of Ukraine.

Thank-you for Netgalley and Guernica Editions for this ARC . This is my honest review.

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Marina Sonkina emigrated from Russia and knows how life or death can hinge on a single event, like Putin’s decision to invade a sovereign nation. In her case, had Stalin lived a matter of weeks longer, Marina would not have traveled to Poland in 2022 to help Ukrainians fleeing the war or write a book about it. Indeed, it is likely she would not be alive. The trains were staged to deport Jews to Siberia before Stalin’s death. She, a toddler and Jewish, would have been on it.

During her stay at the border, Marina helps many navigate a forced evacuation, most with little more than what they can carry. She encourages them to trust that Europeans want to help them, that they don’t think of them as swine, won’t steal their children for personal slaves, as Putin’s poisonous propaganda warned. She knows they will find empathy and support, returning to Ukraine one day with an empiric understanding of life in Western democracies.

This diary is a quick read and puts names and faces to those whose lives Putin is piteously destroying.

Thank you to Guernica Editions and NetGalley for providing this eARC.

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Quick read and sad tales of lives disrupted by the Ukranian war. It is well written and interesting. I live in Germany and we housed several groups of Ukrainians. One lovely family from Kharkiv have stayed and are in our basement apartment to this day. I anticipate they will remain until the war ends. I have heard first hand of the trauma they went to before they arrived to us. I see the daily difficulties they have with learning a language and attempting to assimilate when they didn't choose this path. They can't work until they know the language to a B-1 level so they are demoralized by not earning money or contributing to an independent life. The daughter struggles at school because the school could only offer 1 hour a day to teach them German so they must sit through classes day after day that she doesn't understand. There is trauma on many levels even though they escaped with their lives.

I appreciate the author writing this book to bring the abstract of the war to the personal level. I hope people will continue their support the war until Putin is out of power and lives can be reclaimed.

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