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A Bend in the Stars

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,287 ratings  ·  663 reviews
This is at once an epic love story and a heart-pounding journey across WWI-era Russia, about an ambitious young doctor and her scientist brother in a race against Einstein to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

In Russia, in the summer of 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar's army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and he
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Grand Central Publishing
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Debbie Small Brutal violence. The times were brutal, and so are some of the scenes. War is not pretty. The terror of being a Jew waiting for a pogrom is written qu…moreBrutal violence. The times were brutal, and so are some of the scenes. War is not pretty. The terror of being a Jew waiting for a pogrom is written quite clearly.(less)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  4,287 ratings  ·  663 reviews

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Sarah 🌺 Books in Their Natural Habitat
A Bend in the Stars is easily my favorite book that I’ve read this year – hence the 5 star rating I’m giving it! It will be hard for any other books to be more thoroughly loved in 2019. If you read and loved For All The Things We Cannot See, then this is another must-read. You won’t be disappointed!

Believe it or not, this is Rachel Barenbaum’s debut book. She brings us to Russia and introduces us to the brother-sister duo Miri and Vanya. Russia is on the brink of war with Germany. Things aren’t
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this beautifully-crafted, intelligent novel in one weekend, consumed by Miri’s courage, Vanya’s ambition, the twists of loyalty and sacrifice, the sting of betrayal, the wrenching pain of star-crossed love. In thrilling detail, Barenbaum takes readers on a journey that is both quest and cat-and-mouse game, crisscrossing 1914 Russia by foot and rail with danger at every turn, as Vanya races to the center line of a total eclipse in search of scientific proof among the stars of gravity’s eff ...more
Karen Dukess
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: debut19
I was completely swept away by this novel, transported into pre-World War I Russia and the struggles and hopes of the charismatic siblings, Miri and Vanya Abramov, as they attempted to make scientific history and escape the anti-semitism and violence of pre-revolutionary Russia. With impressive but never heavy-handed research, Barenbaum builds a world of intellectualism, scientific discovery, feminism, beauty, romance, violence and hatred and illuminates the complexities of Russian-Jewish life b ...more
Joy D
In 1914 Russia, siblings Miri, a doctor, and Vanya, a scientist, are living with their grandmother, a Jewish matchmaker. The Great War is just beginning. Vanya is competing with Einstein to prove the theory of relativity. He embarks on a jury with Miri’s fiancé, Yuri, to meet an American, take photos of an eclipse, and arrange passage for their family to America. Miri travels with a soldier, to find Vanya and Yuri. The novel follows each journey through the vast terrain of Russian landscapes, ci ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to have the chance to read an ARC of "A Bend in the Stars" and as soon as I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. The story is set in early 20th century Russia and is so well-researched, the reader practically feels like you are there in Kiev. The beautifully vivid writing draws the reader in - you can almost smell the strawberry jam as Babushka scoops it into her tea. Then there is the race for scientific discovery, with the alluring character of Einstein lurking ever in t ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Russia, 1914. Miri Abramov and her brother Vanya have been raised by their grandmother after their parents' death years before. There is unrest in the country and the Jewish communities are especially at risk. Miri Abramov is now one of few female surgeons, while Vanya is a physicist who dreams of solving the final puzzle concerning Einstein's theory of relativity. Now an eclipse is coming and this could be the answer to solving the puzzle. However, with Russia at war, it is unsure if Vanya will ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelf-awareness
The entire time I was reading this I was waiting to feel the emotions I was supposed to feel. I went in knowing it was a book centered around WWI and that it would probably evoke lots of strong images, and I was fully prepared.

Instead it just sort of felt like a YA novel version of it. Like I never felt any true sense of urgency or tension despite the siblings being hunted. There was action, sure, but it didn’t dispel the weird fog of apathy I had while reading, and it took me far longer than n
Julia Phillips
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A rich, stunning, heartbreaking debut grounded in history. The science blew my mind and the love story broke my heart 💔
Julie Daniels
This was amazing! I can't recommend preordering this one enough! I'll be posting my full review soon. Thank you to the author, publicist, and Grand Central Publishing for the early copy for review. ...more
Janet Rich
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. If you like smart historical fiction with bracing adventure, this one is for you. A Bend in the Stars will take you to places you’ve never seen and introduce you to characters with their backs up against a history you may not know. Russia on the verge of WWI – the sparkling cities, the frozen steppe, the ramshackle ghettoes, the universities and hospitals – it’s all here, as seen through the eyes of a Jewish sister and brother struggling to make their mark in a society that considers them, ...more
Historical Fiction
Find this and other reviews at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

I hate dropping comparisons in the introduction of a review, but I genuinely feel Rachel Barenbaum’s A Bend in the Stars shelves neatly alongside Chad Thumann’s The Undesirables and Marie Benedict’s The Other Einstein.

The novel is brilliantly atmospheric and affords a unique and refreshing portrait of WWI era Russia both politically and culturally. In a market that favors Germany, France, and England, I found this perspectiv
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an adventure! Through war, angry mobs, desparate train rides, I felt the excitement of the race, and the fear, love, and loss along the way. This is a great read. I can’t wait to share it with my friends and family.

Title: A Bend in the Stars
Series: Standalone
Author: Rachel Barenbaum
Release date: May 14, 2019
Cliffhanger: No
Genre: historical fiction

A Bend in the Stars is a sweeping epic portrait of the devastation and desperation of war. This story does not read like it came from a novice writer, far from it. If I hadn't known this was a debut novel beforehand, I would have expected this kind of talent from a seasoned author with years of honing their craft under their belt. Once I got past situating myself
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Grand Central Publishing & Rachel Barenbaum for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

The book was a slow start for me, and all the introductory/back story of the characters did take longer than I personally prefer. But after you get through the first 60 or so pages of the book, it was oh-so worth it. I don't think I ever read a book before that took place here. England and Europe, yes, but not Russia! I loved the descriptions of a place I don't really know much abo
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to believe this is Barenbaum’s debt. This beautifully written literary novel is many things—a historical thriller about physics, the plight of Russian Jews, a complicated love triangle, a heart-pumping journey across Russia, and a sweeping family saga. No matter what type of book you like to read, you’ll find it all here in A Bend in the Stars. I loved it. It’s 1914 Russia and war is breaking out. Will single-minded scientist Vanya make it to the eclipse in time to prove the theory of ...more
Thank you to netgalley and Grand Central Publishing for my free review copy.

A Bend in the Stars is a epic historical fictional novel set in Russia at the cusp of WWI. Although, It has so much more complexity that. It’s smart, and heartfelt and at a lot of times heartbreaking.

This tale is sweeping and complex, and I took my time with it because, I think it’s one of those stories that engrosses you so much, that you can’t help but put it down and think for a little while.
It was refreshing to re
Though this book is over well over 400 pages long, it is a beautifully written and crafted debut by an author. Very easily one of my favorites of the year so far!

I rarely read books based in Russia; however, the author truly brought to life the landscape of what it would of been like during this time.

This book introduces you to main characters whom are sister and brother: Miri and Vanya. With the war with Germany coming quickly, things in Russia is tough. However, none more so if you're a Jew a
Bailey Ritter
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books, giveaways
I received this book in a giveaway from Goodreads and it was a historical fiction book set in Russia as two siblings live on the brink of the first World War. Vanya is a physicist and Miri is a surgeon, very rare for this time.
I really enjoy historical fiction and this book was very well-written. Told from both the sister’s and the brother’s point of view, the reader is able to see both their takes of the world and the coming war around them. The book ended with a few lines that really made me s
Lollita Ann
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book through giveaways. Was a good story but the pacing was rather slow till about the last 100 pages. The story focuses on the siblings struggle to solve relativity and get out of Russia but very little was actually focused on the first world war happening in the background to their story. The main four characters were mostly likeable, aspects of the end were sad not an entirely happy ending.
Catherine Milmine
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Won this book on Goodread. Excellent story and wonderful characters. Was hard to put down, so well written. Recommend this book.
Robert Sheard
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm usually knee-deep in WWII fiction, so to find a story related to WWI is an interesting departure for me. But the war is really just the backdrop for a story of two Jewish siblings who defy all the odds. She becomes a surgeon when there simply aren't any women surgeons in Russia, let alone Jewish women surgeons, and he is engaged in a race to beat Einstein to the final equations to prove relativity, and to keep them safe from an unscrupulous professor who wants to steal his work. With a healt ...more
Mirta Trupp
I will have to splurge and buy the book. The sample I downloaded was excellent.
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A new voice in historical fiction, Rachel Barenbaum has chosen Russia in 1914 -- at the outset of WWI. The basic plot is two-fold: scientist Vanya's efforts to complete Einstein's theory of relativity so the family can move to America. He needs to complete the complex math and get a picture of a forthcoming solar eclipse (proving that light bends.) He is being chased by a Russian scientist trying to steal credit for his work. Meanwhile, his sister Miri is a rare gem, a woman surgeon, whose surge ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own, fiction, vine
The premise of this book was certainly intriguing enough: a bright Russian scientist thinks he can prove Einstein’s theory of relativity. All he needs is a photograph of an eclipse and he can finalize his equations, but with World War I erupting, there is little chance Vanya can achieve these lofty goals. Then there’s his sister Miri, who is exceptional in her own right as the only female surgeon in the country. Her fiancé and Vanya set off to find an American who has equipment to photograph the ...more
Aug 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Actually, this book merits 5 1/2 stars, but since the ratings only go to 5, I guess we'll have to leave it at that. Wow. Where to begin; the book chronicles a Russian scientist's quest to solve the theory of relativity before Einstein does. Along the way, we learn some of the struggles the Jews went through during the Great War (WW1). I am amazed that this is the author's first novel. The writing is that good. I won't go into detail about the book; if you're a fan of historical fiction, you shou ...more
Carla (happiestwhenreading)
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
{#partner @grandcentralpub}

This was a fascinating look at Russia just prior to the start of WWI. There’s A LOT going on in this story – an eclipse is coming which will help solve Einstein’s incomplete Theory of Relativity, the family is separated and supposed to meet back up in another part of Russia before trying to escape to America, there are soldiers and other people in pursuit of them all because they are Jewish, and there is a love triangle.

Overall, I liked the story even though it lacked
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: g-slur, jewish-rep
Jewish love interest.

TWs at the bottom as they could be considered spoilery.

I DNFd this months ago and picked up where I left off, so a lot of the stuff has left my mind. But I still enjoyed it as it was. It’s a very good historical fiction, and the characters were great too, I suspect most won’t enjoy the romantic element of the story but I happened to enjoy it. I would actually be interested to reread it to have the plot be more fresh.

war, violence, gore, Romani slur, anti-semitism,
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it

Full review: https://booksrealwhenshared.wordpress...

I was provided with a digital ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishing house, Grand Central Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

"A Bend In The Stars" has granted its place as one of my favourite historical fiction books every.
It follows te story of Vanya and Miri, two siblings living in Russia on the verge of the First World War. Vanya is a mathematician, and he's "in competition" with Einstein for the equation
I read a tremendous amount of this genre. And there is a lot of this genre thats generated, year after year after year. Just how many World War Two books can a person read? Apparently, many! But what I have come to understand, is that they have to be extremely good at this point to compete. That, or maybe I am getting tired of it a little bit. This one was good. I enjoyed it. But extraordinary? Like 'wiping your eyes staying with you forever forever moved not to missed' good? Nope. If this is yo ...more
Mary Lins
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: complete
“A Bend in the Stars”, by Rachel Barenbaum, started out promising. I was immediately immersed into the story of Russian, Jewish, siblings, Miri, a rare female doctor/surgeon and her mathematician brother, Vanya, as they struggle to leave Russia at the onset of WWI.

Barenbaum clearly did deep research into the history of Einstein’s theory of relativity and mathematics in general at the time. So this epic could have been a fascinating work of historical fiction that encompasses history that reader
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ATOMIC ANNA is Rachel's second novel. The New York Times Book Review said it was “masterfully plotted." And the LA Review of Books called it "propulsive and intimate." Rachel's debut, A BEND IN THE STARS, was named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.

Rachel is a prolific writer and reviewer. Her work has appeared in the LA Review of

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