What's The Name of That Book??? discussion

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Children's/YA-SOLVED > Russian girl and her parents are sent to Soviet Siberia as punishment [s]

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message 1: by ladymurmur (new)

ladymurmur I read this book in the late 80's - found it in both my elementary school and junior high libraries.

The setting of the book was the early Soviet era of Russia. The protagonist is a young girl whose family is exiled to Siberia for political reasons. They end up living in a small town. The father leaves for some reason, and promises to come back an get the mother, grandmother, and daughter.

The girl goes to school, and makes friends with local girls. They secretly learn true Russian history, but have to be ready to hide the text books and pretend to be learning "proper" subjects if the Inspector or party-members ever come by. Apparently the protagonist is particularly good at certain subjects because whenever the Inspector comes by, she is called upon to recite the lessons (yay, fatherland stuff).

At one point she saves all the onion skins from their kitchen, and asks her friend to save theirs, too, and uses them to dye the curtains in their little shack a bright yellow to add some cheer to the place.

At another point, she meets a more well-to-do lady who is buying a cow at the market. The lady buys a knit skirt or blanket or something with holes in it and hires the girl to rip it out and re-knit it for her. The grandmother helps the girl with her knitting (I specifically remember hiding knots/joining yarn), and when she is done, she takes the lovely red knit skirt to the well-to-do lady to try on. And it is much to small. The lady says "remember the cow" - apparently she's gained weight drinking milk and cream from the cow she'd bought. So the girl has to rip it all out and do it again, crying all the while.

Her mother learns to dress the way the local women do, wrapping her shawl around her head and face so that there is only a small hole to see through, to protect from frost bite.

When they get word her father is coming back, the girl more than anything wants a special coat and these certain boots so she can be dressed all pretty-like for her father. She is so proud of her new boots and coat, and when her father sees her, he comments that she is dressed like a peasant, and they'll buy her new clothes (which I always thought was horridly thoughtless of him).

I read the book around the same time as
Masha, but this is definitely a different book.


message 2: by Angharad (new)

Angharad | 99 comments That sounds a lot like The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia, but I haven't read it in years and the details are fuzzy.


message 3: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Sounds like The Endless Steppe to me too. I read it in high school.


message 4: by ladymurmur (new)

ladymurmur It just might be The Endless Steppe. None of the reviews or summaries that I can find detail the specific bits that have been haunting me, but the more I read, the more it starts fitting together bits and pieces that feel familiar. I've put in a request at my local library (there is a surprisingly long waiting list), and will confirm it as soon as I have a chance to read it.


message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth "The lady says "remember the cow" - apparently she's gained weight drinking milk and cream from the cow she'd bought. So the girl has to rip it all out and do it again, crying all the while." I remember this part very clearly. Also the part at the end when she is so proud of her boots and she has gone from hating the place to not wanting to leave. There was also a bit in the beginning when she is learning to garden and she hates it. She spends all day pulling weeds only to discover that she was pulling the vegetables instead of the weeds!


message 6: by ladymurmur (new)

ladymurmur Elizabeth wrote: ""The lady says "remember the cow" - apparently she's gained weight drinking milk and cream from the cow she'd bought. So the girl has to rip it all out and do it again, crying all the while." I rem..."

YES!! It is most definitely The Endless Steppe. Never thought my mystery would be solved so quickly. THANK YOU!


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Books mentioned in this topic

Masha (other topics)
The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia (other topics)