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A Year Without Mom

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,077 ratings  ·  228 reviews
A Year Without Mom follows twelve-year-old Dasha through a year full of turmoil after her mother leaves for America.

It is the early 1990s in Moscow, and political change is in the air. But Dasha is more worried about her own challenges as she negotiates family, friendships and school without her mother. Just as she begins to find her own feet, she gets word that she is to
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 1st 2015 by Groundwood Books (first published September 24th 2015)
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,077 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it
A Year Without Mom was a nice little read on this windy, cold, snowy day.

The narrative was interesting--it was told in present tense, which I wasn't expecting, and made it feel like it wasn't a memoir but a fictional story. The cool things about memoirs is that the author looks back on their life and decide how to share their life with their readers. But since this was told in present tense it have that looking-back, thoughtful, possibly nostaglic quality that a lot of memoirs (especially graph
David Schaafsma
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gn-women
Found in the teen YA section of my library, this is more of an illustrated story of one year in a girl's life when her Mom was in the U.S. while she stayed with Grandma in Moscow. Set during the 1991 coup d'etat against Gorbachev, it could have had something very interesting to tell. Hey, I was actually there in Moscow that same year, for a couple weeks, so I was interested in what it had to say about that! But there was nothing; not much happened that year, except her first crush.

The title real
3.5 stars. I really liked the minimal use of colour, and the charcoals, greys and blacks forming the bulk of each page.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Year Without Mom is absolute perfection.

Every word, so carefully chosen, is like having Dasha Tolstikova sit across from you, telling her story, holding your hand, cutting deep into your heart. In the best way, I mean. The text is extraordinary, crafted in a way that conveys the emotional depth of the story right to your soul. You feel everything 12-year-old Dasha feels. This is no easy feat: To be able to write such an accessible story that carries such huge big emotion.

The illustrations carr
Krista Regester
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sweet coming of age story that takes place in Russia. Dasha is a twelve year old girl who has to deal with difficult situations and making mature decisions while her mother is away for a year in America. This is a very sentimental and bitter sweet graphic novel with great descriptive illustrations.
Gary Anderson
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
At first I was thinking, "Except for how it's set in Russia, I've read this storyline many times. And the artwork is too drab." Then it hit me. Yes, A Year Without Mom has a familiar plot--adolescent girl is separated from parents and has to navigate school, friends, and the future more or less on her own--but that Russian setting is what makes it so relevant. Young people all over the world have similar issues and problems like those experienced by young Dasha. Set the story in Russia, and all ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Year Without Mom lives outside the box of whatever kind of kids’ book box you want to try to put it in. It’s like a really long picture book for much, much older kids; it’s also graphic novel length and age group, but doesn’t have panels and instead has small blocks of text alongside full-page illustrations; and it’s a historical memoir, too.

While her story takes place in 1990’s Russia (rooted in such a specific time and place), it never feels that far away from the reader. Of course, we see
Nov 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
VERY nice art work.
Well designed.
The story/memoir is dull to the extreme.The activities of and 'crises' faced by this girl are so mundane and typical as to be soporific.
I can't help thinking that if this book were reflecting on a North American girl of this period/age level/family background instead of one living in the Soviet Union, this publisher would not have remotely considered publishing it. And even though the book is set in the Soviet Union (and the transition to Russia is part of the ti
Rod Brown
May 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
A memoir about a twelve-year-old girl that feels as if it were written and drawn by a twelve-year-old girl. Between the numerous pages devoted to her girlhood crush are a few references to the fact that she is living through the collapse of the Soviet Union. I might have let this dull and pointless book off with two stars if the creator hadn't decided to put "I say" and "she says" tags beneath every word balloon. That's just annoying as hell.
Bilan M. Atayaah
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
I love the artwork and the quality production of the graphic novel itself but the story was really lacking. I expected a more in depth look into the process of immigrating to the US or even into the relationships between mother and daughter once they'd been separated but nothing. All very surface level. Really disappointed with the limited narrative as I felt it could have been explored in a much richer way.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was a very good book The major theme of the book was being lonely because she has to go a whole year without her mom! also she thinks her friends are going to a different school. One of the main messages is that you have to overcome stuff in life and be strong if something happens like it did to Dasha the main character
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I breezed through this little book in a couple of hours. If you're just skimming the surface, it's an easy read, but I wanted to savor it, spend some time with each page and let it reveal to me the details that might remind me of my own childhood in '90s Moscow.

Overall - and this is entirely, entirely subjective and doesn't reflect on the validity of the book at all - I didn't relate to Dasha's story as much as I expected to, and ultimately that was a disappointment. When I first heard about th
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dasha is twelve when her mother leaves Moscow to go to school in America. Dasha is left in the care of her grandparents. It is the early 1990s and things are changing in Russia. Dasha though is more interested in her first crush on a boy, her friendships, and her trip to Germany for Christmas. She misses her mother terribly and has to figure out how to have a life without her there. Dasha’s life reaches a crisis when she fails an important test because she is having problems with the boy she lik ...more
Melissa Chung
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Giving this graphic novel 3 stars. It was okay.

This graphic novel is about a 12 year old girl named Dasha who lives in Russia. Her whole family is into writing. Her grandmother writes, her mother is in advertisement. They, as a family go to writing retreats every summer. Dasha's mother has been excepted to do her masters program in advertisement in America. She leaves Dasha with her grandparents.

This book is about the year Dasha spends away from her mom and what she does in the meantime. It is w
An interesting look into a year in the life of a Russian girl whose mother moves to the US to get a better education. There's friendship squabbles, crushes, tension with family, and then, of course, the Russian politics of the early 90s.

I'm curious how young readers will take this one. There's nothing bad about it, but there's also nothing particularly noteworthy if you're not familiar with the Cold War nor about what was going on in Russia during that time period (I only know very little mysel
Julia Mcknight
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
In a spare and detached but very likeable voice, Tolstikova tells the story of a year in her life at the age of twelve. The story tackles timely as well as timeless issues like transcontinental families, coming of age, friendship, the first crush, moving to a new country, coping with change. The illustrations, while minimal, convey all the emotions that go unexpressed in the narrative but lie just below the surface. There is an admirable restraint, an elegant simplicity throughout that I found r ...more
Marta Boksenbaum
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a very impressive graphic novel. A snapshot of a young Russian girl's experience when her mother goes to America to pursue a master's degree, the story follows a year of living with her grandparents. The stark, sparsely colored illustrations portray our protagonist's emotions through contrast and line. This story has less plot, and more of an exploration of a character and her state of being. This intelligent novel does not pander to tweens, rather it trusts them to be intelligent and em ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this very quick and short graphic novel. The art was great and there was the perfect amount of text. I docked a star because I would have loved to see an extension to the ending we got. I still enjoyed the ending but would have liked to see a bit more than what we did. Overall, a very enjoyable graphic novel about a small Russian girl that had me glued to the pages.
Ade Yang
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really like the girl---Dasha's life. Leave mom and home is an difficult thing.
William Bloxom
Could you survive without your parents? Specifically could you survive without your mom? How would you feel if she went to live in another country? This novel tells the story of a young 12 year old girl Dasha who lives in Moscow and whose mother left to go to America. The time period is the 1990s when many things were changing in Russia. This book deals with the adjustment of living with her Grandparents, the interpersonal conflicts of missing her mother and feeling so lonely. It deals with her ...more
Vinayak Hegde
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is a simple story about a girl growing up in her teens while her mother is away in the USA to study. all of this happens while the USSR is breaking up and there is turmoil in Moscow. However the backdrop of this change is not reflected in the story much and it explores the events and feelings of the little girl as she navigates her school life and friends.

The artwork is good with usage of watercolors with sketch-pens and crayons. The author/artists uses a upward lateral angle in many of the
Sarah Nelson
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
I liked this. Though quiet, this graphic novel gives us a rare little window into a child's life in Russia. When mom leaves for graduate school in the United States, 12-year-old Dasha is left behind in Moscow to navigate a year of challenging friendships, school exams, and a crushing crush on a boy named Petya. The drawings are simple, but evocative and full of feeling.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
It was pretty good and had an interesting art style. Although after I finished it I felt like there wasn’t enough. Like I needed more of a story.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dasha is a young girl living in Russia. Her mother is completing her master's degree and is accepted to a program in America. Her mother unfortunately cannot bring Dasha with. Dasha must remain in Russia with her grandparents. The year without her mother brings a lot for Dasha: friendships change and grow, love interests come and go, political changes happen, Dasha makes plans for the future. A year later her mother returns and Dasha learns of more changes that are soon to come to her life.

I ra
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Source: 2016 USBBY Outstanding International Books List

A Year Without My Mom is a graphic novel written in first person that recounts the story of Dasha, the author, when she was 12. Her mom moved to America for a year to complete a master’s program, leaving Dasha to live with her Grandparents. It takes place in Moscow, Russia during the early 1990s.

The illustrations in this graphic novel are black and white, with some accents of red and blue. They help to tell the story, as the dull colors ref
Nicole Santiago
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This graphic memoir, set in Russia during the political turmoil of the 1990s, is easily accessible and showcases universal themes about growing up like romantic heartache, self-esteem challenges, peer pressure, single-parenthood, and competitive school selection processes. The main character, 12-year-old Dasha, lives with her grandparents and mother until her mother decides to complete her master's degree in America. During the year that Dasha's mother attends the University of Illinois, there i ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
This art is stunning--I could look at full page spreads of Dasha's self-portraits all day. And her depictions of cities and streets and living rooms and classrooms--complex and sparse and controlled and warm in places. The story is also good: Dasha's loneliness and angsty tween-ness comes through with earnestness and truth. But the part that was missing for me was context--an explanatory comma, if you will--about a more macro picture of what it meant to grow up in Moscow in the 90s. Without an i ...more
Nicola Mansfield
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
First, let's start by saying this isn't a graphic novel. The pictures do not tell a story they only illustrate what the text has already told. It's either an illustrated chapter book or a picture book with a lot of text. I'm not particular in pigeonholing books but the publisher's write up on the back calls this a "graphic novel" which is simply misleading and incorrect. I was on a graphic novel awards committee and everyone immediately dismissed this as *not* a graphic novel.With that out of th ...more
Not too bad, but doesn't really fit in a clear category so would be hard to market to patrons. It *really* bothered me that Tolstikova kept the "she says" and "he says" in there when she was using word bubbles. It dramatically screwed with the flow of the story and made what could have been a more successful back-and-forth comics/prose hybrid. The story itself was all right. There's nothing terribly remarkable about it except for the cross-cultural element, and we don't really get a lot of cultu ...more
I liked this--the art is pretty, and I enjoyed the story of Dasha's year in Russia while her mom was living in Chicago. I guess the main idea is that a lot can happen in a year and your feelings can change, and that change is hard and being a kid is hard. I didn't feel like there was much more to it than that though, and I guess I wish there were a little more depth, or a little more about what was going on in Russia during that time. There are about five pages of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état att ...more
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