Abby's Reviews > A Train to Potevka

A Train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell
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Dec 24, 10

Read from December 22 to 24, 2010

Two days ago I wasn't sure if I wanted to read this book, because there were so many reviews on here saying it wasn't that great. However, I read the book in less than 24 hours. I was annoyed that I had to stop reading to do non-important things like shower and make food, or answer the phone. Or respond to my crying children. (Seriously, there was this part where a guy was dying, and every other sentence my children were interupting me, and I was like, PLEASE GO AWAY GO AWAY GO AWAY!!! Then I locked myself in the bathroom to read alone.)

This book is all about a Mormon Utah guy who works as an American spy in Russia in the early 90's. He's supposed to apprehend a Russian mafia criminal bad guy, but his cover gets blown. The dumb guys back at Spy Headquarters royally screw up and he is left alone in this far off city, almost killed, then escapes on a train to this place called Potevka, where many more things are screwed up as well. Yet he survives, and all ends well in the end, and it's exciting and cool along the way. And other than that, I just really think you should read it.

I lived in Russia for a semester back in the fall of 2001. I lived with a Russian family, taught Russian kids English in a Russian school, rode the Russian buses and metros, traveled overnight in a dirty old train and watched a blizzard out my window, and saw all the bad after affects of 70ish years of communism and evil people in charge. I met nice people whose parents and grandparents were captured or killed by the KGB. I saw Lenin's creepy dead body in his tomb on Red Square. I learned how to ask for different flavors of ice cream in Russian. I saw the scary non smiling faces you'd get in an unfamiliar area on a street when you were lost. I met and talked to Babushkas. I froze my toes and fingers during the winter. I can feel Russia and the smells and sounds and tastes in my very bones. When I read this book, it all came so vividly to life for me. Perhaps that is the key to liking this book or not. If you do not know and have a strange love affair with Russia, you may be turned off by the cold barreness of a freezing starving Russian winter that this book offers. But if you know it and love it, it's hard not to be completely drawn in.

So if you've been to Russia and know it well - you'll love this book. If you haven't, then you should really go there. Or at the very least, make some Russian friends. They are like the coolest people you'll ever get to know. Except me. I am an American, but I think I'm pretty cool.

Weirdly enough, my friend Olga from St Petersburg, who I met when she came to stay in Utah with me for a few weeks with an exchange program, emailed me the morning after finishing this book, which my neighbor lent to me a week or so ago after I attended a Young Men's activity at church where the Russian speaker turned out to be a guy I had known when I lived in Moscow. Strange coincidences, no? I have had Russia on my mind like crazy. Maybe it's time to move there. Did you know that Joseph Smith said in the 1800's that some of the most important work in the last days pertaining to the gospel will take place in Russia? I know that isn't an exact quote, and I have no reference on hand for you, but I swear it's true. Maybe we should all start practicing our Russia, nyet? I think we can skip the Russian vodaka. But everything else Russian, let us embrace it!!
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Danae (new)

Danae I know my dad read this one and really liked it-- don't know if that's a good or bad sign. It looked kindof amature-ish to me, but maybe if you like it, I'll give it a try, too. The guys my age were some of the very first missionaries in Russia when it opened up, so I remember that being a big deal.


Dahlene It's a good one. You won't want to skim it when you start reading. Amazing story!


Abby Dudes. I loved this book! I agree Dahlene, it was great. I will never ever doubt you again. And Danae, your dad was right. Maybe this guy's not a professional writer, but I thought he wrote awesomely. Maybe everything was so easy to envision because I already had it stored in my brain. I don't know. But I loved it. LOVED IT. And I don't care if anyone else says it's lame. They're lame. And this book was the best.


Dahlene I told ya! I'm glad I was right!!


Mark I'm glad you read this book. It is totally one of my favorite reads.


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