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Mother Country

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly

Award-winning author Irina Reyn explores what it means to be a mother in a world where you can't be with your child

Nadia's daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities: as a senior home attendant, she is always in danger of being fired; as a part-time nanny, she is forced to navigate the demands of
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  238 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

This mother-daughter story takes readers from Ukraine( 1980's to 2015) to New York (2014-2015) and highlights both the post Soviet impact on the Ukranian population and the ups and downs of being an immigrant. Eastern European politics isn't something that too many people in North America tend to focus on, but what Irina Reyn does very well for readers is illustrating the
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted more from this book than I got. I wanted to know more about Ukraine. I wanted the deep and complex mother-daughter dynamic. I wanted the “morally urgent” storytelling Anthony Marta promised on the cover blurb. I got elements of all those things but this story and these characters never gripped me or moved me in the ways I hoped for.
Jill Dobbe
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a Ukranian woman who moves to New York and leaves her daughter in the Ukraine. Over the years, she works two jobs and continually tries to bring her daughter to the U.S. During her years in the U.S. she watches and listens for as much news as she can get on the Russia-Ukraine war, while anxiously waiting for calls from her daughter to make sure she is alive and well.

An intriguing story exists about the Russian side of New York, and how the many Russians living there keep
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was excited about reading this new book by Irina Reyn, since I loved her last novel...but I was very disappointed. I found it hard to follow and felt it contained too many sub-plots and far too many characters, all with Russian names (often changed by use of diminutives), it became confusing.

There is also an expectation that one has an understanding of the politics within the Russian community and the current situation between Russia and Crimea. I am sad to say that plowing through this was
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: Mother Country
Author: Irina Reyn
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Review Date: February 12, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Of all the front page blurbs and reviews about this book, on Amazon, the following best says how I felt about the book:
“"What does it mean to leave a child to save her? A deep investigation into parenthood, identity, and immigration, Irina Reyn's
Jee Hooked On Bookz
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
It started off with a very strong introduction and got me interested. And I held my hopes high for the rest of the story.

This novel is about motherhood, immigration and the struggles a mother faces when being separated from their family members. Nadia, who successfully migrated to US was struggling to not only adapt to her new life in NYC, but was also facing challenges trying to get her daughter over to the US. To earn her living, she worked as a part time nanny to a rambunctious 4 year-old and
Karen Raskin
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I think this book has a stronger start than finish. The basic subject matter - the immigrant experience and specifically how it relates to Ukraine - was good, but I found the execution to be uneven. Or, maybe I was a little too distracted this week to do it justice.
Lizz DiCesare
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Fellow readers, I have something to admit: I once again judged a book by it’s cover. When I was browsing NetGalley I came across the artwork for Mother Country by Irina Reyn and was mesmerized by its beauty. After staring at the cover for a few minutes, I decided to read over the blurb, and immediately requested a copy. The story was as beautifully written as the cover looked, but wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

Let me start off by saying that while this book wasn’t necessarily my favourite, that
Janilyn Kocher
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
When I first read the synopsis I was interested. However, when I began reading, the story just didn't hold my interest. I'm sure others will find the narrative is for them, but this one is a pass for me. The cover was very colorful and inviting. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
What should a mother do? Everyone has ideas about this, even people who aren’t mothers. It seems that, no matter who we are or what culture we’re a part of, we can’t help but have opinions about how women are raising their children. The protagonist of Irina Reyn’s thoughtful, troubling novel, Mother Country, is the target of judgment from friends, nannies, and relatives. Worst of all, Nadezhda’s own daughter judges her mothering. And yet, at every step in this heart-breaking novel, Nadia is ...more
Donna Hines
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Love knows no boundaries. Russia is a far cry from US yet the love between and a mother and the child she left behind is closer than ever.
Nadia is anxiously awaiting her daughter's application process for asylum to be processed from war torn Ukraine all while heading to the US to work as a nanny.
There she meets some interesting individuals and cares for many children but she longs for the warmth of her daughter to be near.
Larisska was her everything and is her life.
She's 21 yo and Nadia worries
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. Much appreciated.

3. 5, but not rounding up. Sometimes a 3, sometimes 3.5, sometimes 4. All over the place in terms of interest and appeal. And so too the book moved over time and the Ukraine, US, Russia. Often beautifully written and revelatory. But also boring. I can't quite say which parts I liked best.

I did enjoy Nadia's perspective on being an immigrant/nanny/caregiver in Brooklyn--not the Brooklyn of her young charge, Sasha [and mother Regina--a
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Talk about reading a topical novel in this political time (i.e. Ukraine). To read the description in terms of what it's like living in a war zone and the desire to rescue a child (and be thwarted by Homeland Security). This novel should be read by everyone right now. (Which is why I kept reading aloud passages).
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
The story of a Ukrainian mother who leaves her adult daughter in her native country to emigrate to New York. She spends all her energy trying to find a way for her daughter, who feels abandoned and betrayed, to join her working as a nanny and caretaker of the elderly. Russia invades Ukraine making matters worse. As an ethnic Russian Ukrainian, who just wants her daughter safe she doesn't fit in with other Russians or other non-Russian Ukrainians and just wants the war over. The book is written ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. A Ukrainian woman in the U.S. works as a nanny and strives to bring her daughter to America.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Via my book blog at

Nadezhda (Nadia) is an ethnic Russian who grew up in the countryside of Ukraine. Nadia's daughter, Larissa, is Nadia's baby girl even when she grows up. Nadia can never see her daughter as anything but her baby who she will devote her life to totally and painfully.

Nadia applied for a visa to the USA when Larissa was very young with her sister who had gone to the USA before her as a sponsor. Years go by, and finally, they get called to the
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nadia's new life as a Russian immigrant in Brooklyn is hard. Juggling two jobs, one as a nanny for a privileged and spoiled family, and one as a senior home attendant, she gets through every day keeping one thing in mind: she has to bring her daughter to the USA.

But it's already been six years since she left her daughter behind in order to secure a better future for her, and things are still
Melanie  Brinkman
How far would you go to save your family?

I won a copy of Mother Country from the publisher, Dunne / St. Martin's Press and the author, Irina Reyn. A huge thank you to them!

Nadia isn't living her best life in South Brooklyn as she tries to keep from being fired from her job as a senior home attendant and also navigating the emotional demands of a spoiled preschooler, and her equally emotional mother. Nadia also tries to avoid feuding with the Western Ukrainian immigrants, who believe she is a
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I give this little book four stars because I checked it out at my local public library. Had I bought it, I would have only given it two or three stars. Война и Mиръ it isn't. I don't expect it to stay in print for 150 years, and not simply because the historical events will be out of date. Yes, Russian names take some getting used to, especially if one doesn't understand the bit about how they all have a gazillion diminutive forms. It shouldn't be too abstruse, though. Irina Reyn writes well, ...more
Nicole Overmoyer
I received a copy of MOTHER COUNTRY in exchange for an honest & original review. Thanks to NetGalley & Thomas Dunne Books for the chance to read this book.)

In the mess that is our world, it's easy for things to get lost. It's easier still to think we are informed enough about all things to offer opinions and make assumptions. And it's easiest yet to make assumptions that amount to saying "these two things are similar, therefore they are the same."

We do ourselves a great disservice when
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
First of all, can we just appreciate the beauty of the cover design??
Even if I wasn't interested in the theme of the book (I WAS), the cover alone would've compelled me to pick up the book, walk around B&N for 20 minutes, hoping to appear more intelligent and sophisticated by association.
(Yes. People DO judge books by covers. And they judge readers by their books' covers. I'm not even joking.)

Okay, on to the actual story....
You can read the blurb, I'm certain, so I won't rehash it.
And if
This is an interesting book, but I didn’t think it a compelling read. It’s the story of Nadia, single mother of Larissa, a young girl in Ukraine. Nadia's mother is around, but she’s only seen in padding, not an integral character. Nadia applied for emigration to the US for herself and her daughter, but when, after years of editing, the time comes to leave, Larissa has aged out. Nadia must decide whether to stay, or leave and work for Larissa to join her. She decides to take the opportunity to ...more
Todd Hogan
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story of a mother and daughter separated by immigration laws although I was disappointed that the novel failed to wrap up some of the plot points. That should have been a big negative for me, but I was touched deeply by the mother's story here. The immigrants were from Ukraine, a newly independent country separated from Russia, whose citizens were conflicted about leaving the USSR for an uncertain government. Civil war raged, including sniper activity. Those left behind subject to ...more
Jessica Hughes
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
**I received an ARC of this novel a few months ago for an honest review**

Historical fiction is one of my favorite topics to read about. I was really interested in this book because the events took place so recently, and I'm honestly not that familiar with any of the conflict during the soviet union.

The story line itself is fascinating - mother leaves a war torn country and her daughter behind, to immigrate to America with the hopes that her daughter will be able to join her soon. Months of
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

"Mother Country" is the story of Nadia, a Ukrainian woman who leaves her adult daughter and comes to the United States, working multiple jobs and trying for years to get approval for her daughter to join her in America. Nadia deals with the guilt she feels for leaving her daughter, and as unrest grows in the Ukraine, the guilt and fear become overpowering.

In spite of some heavy topics, the book is still enjoyable to read. Nadia was a well-developed character, and while I understood her
Dec 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
I think this book will mainly appeal to people who want to know more about what is currently going on in Russia/Ukraine(To be honest, me like many Americans did not realize until the fall of the Soviet Union that there was a difference between Russia and the Ukraine. I know I firmly believed that many Ukrainian cities were Russia cities. It helps that I know some recent Russian immigrants. Otherwise I think I might have found parts of the book confusing.

Like some other reviewers I found the
Jennifer S
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Mother Country is the story of Nadia, who emigrates to the US but is forced to leave her daughter behind in war-torn Ukraine. It took me a while to figure out the ages of both - but eventually it becomes clear that the daughter (Larisska or Larissa) is 21 when the mother emigrates, which requires her to have her own visa and starts the process over again. Jump forward 6 years and we get a taste of Nadia's new life in the US as she continues to try to bring
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I won this from a Goodreads Giveaway & agreed to do a review so here it is!

from the synopsis
"Nadia's daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities: as a senior home attendant, she is always in danger of being fired; as a part-time nanny, she is forced to navigate the demands of her spoiled charge and the preschooler's insecure mother; and as an ethnic Russian, she finds herself feuding with western Ukrainian immigrants who think she is a traitor."

This isnt a story I'd
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
via my blog:
'She preferred to think of herself as an observer, a temporary traveler, someone waiting for a new life to begin, rather than who she really was: a worker executing an invisible task within the neighborhood’s complex ecosystem.'

Nadia splits her time as a Nanny to the privileged little girl of a Russian born woman who demands she teach her child Russian, even if she cannot speak it well herself and as a caregiver at VIP Senior Care, tending to
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, giveaways
Tempting to read a colon into the title between the words Mother and Country, as Mother:Country, Mother is to Country as . . .
There's also the corrective connotation where it has always been Mother Russia, not the Fatherland.
Then there's Brooklyn as country instead of borough, where a few blocks stand in for the Ukraine and another few blocks stand in for Russia, deep Brooklyn and la-la Brooklyn.
What does one do? Where does one go when the homeland, the mother country, is no longer a safe place
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Irina Reyn is the author of the forthcoming novel MOTHER COUNTRY. She is also the author of THE IMPERIAL WIFE and WHAT HAPPENED TO ANNA K.
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“Larissa grew quiet, her skin burnished with a rosy glow. Through childhood, she had been the easiest of children, clingy and shy, but eager to please Nadia. The former was just now shedding but a difficult age was looming, when you could visibly see the closing of the gates, your child's mind shutting itself off from you growing impenetrable. Just in the last few months, Nadia watched a new, defiant personality that was pushing against the safe borders carefully crafted for her.” 0 likes
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