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The Silence of Trees

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,857 ratings  ·  350 reviews
Too often the women of historyhave been silenced, but their stories have power-to reveal, to teach, and to transform.This is one such story. In Chicago's Ukrainian Village, Nadya Lysenko has built her life on a foundation of secrets.When Nadya was sixteen, she snuck out of her house in Western Ukraine to meet a fortuneteller in the woods. Ignoring the threat of Nazis and R ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Wolfsword Press (first published September 23rd 2010)
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Laura May Yes, but perhaps you should read it again, just to be on the safe side ;)

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This novel takes place in two worlds and times, Ukraine and Germany of World War II and contemporary Chicago where Nadya, the protagonist relocated some years after the war. But the entire novel is steeped in the Ukraine, from wartime memories to the traditions carried on in Nadya's Chicago household. The novel deals with memory, guilt, fear, trust, issues many survivors have, but in ways that are very specific to Nadya.

As we meet her, she is a middle-aged woman living with regret over decisions
Sonja Arlow
Oct 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those curious about Ukrainian Cuture
This is a soft spoken story about making peace with the ghosts, demons and decisions of your past.

It starts in 1940s Ukraine with a teenage girl slipping out of her house in the dead of night to consult a gypsy about her love life. Upon her return she discovers her family home burned to the ground with Russian soldiers everywhere.

Fast forwarding fifty years, Nadya's story of war and loss is told through flashbacks as she tries to come to grips with the secrets she's kept all this time.

I loved t
3.5 stars
I listened to this on audio, and although I loved the narrator's voice and her pronunciation of the Ukrainian words, I'm a bit sad that I did not read it. The writing was beautiful, and I think I would have enjoyed reading this slow, sorrowful story more if I could savor it in my own time.
I loved the descriptions of the Ukrainian traditions , myths and the use of magical realism throughout the book. Nadya didn't feel like a fictional character, but like a real-life person - she made mi
This book was really really good. I picked it pretty randomly -- just looking for something to read since my kindle is shot and I'm waiting for my [second!] replacement and so am using Jet's and don't have access to all the books I had already downloaded. I was determined not to spend more than 99cents and this book turned out to be worth much more than that.

The writing is really well done in that I cared about Nadya's story right from the get go. It has enough historical grit (the plight of ukr
Penumbra Publishing
By Valya Dudycz Lupescu
Women’s Fiction
Reviewed by Willa Kaye Danes, author at Penumbra Publishing
99-cent Kindle ebook edition

The first thing I must say is ... I loved this story. It is one of the best stories I have read in a very long time. It is emotional and magical and mystical and truthful, full of secrets and regrets and fears and, finally, courage – courage to speak. This is a story about women, their voices, their pain, their connection to each other, and their love o
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite feelings is that moment of triumph you experience when you have just finished a good book.
Triumph because you have been edified and uplifted. Triumph because you now have a handful of quotes to add to your mental collection. Triumph because for the duration of the book, you felt a connection to the author.
From beginning to end, this book held my attention. The narrative style helps to create and maintain that connection to the author, I feel like the persona was sitting with
Thius book disappointed me. I kept reading and reading hoping that I would be drawn in, hoping that I would come to care for the characters. I didn't leave any comments, because there wasn't much I felt I had to share with anyone. There were a few sentences that beautifully expressed thoguhts on love and pain and family. The message imparted is sweet and beautiful, but the way in which the story was told, just did not draw me in.

The primary problem with this book is that the reader is told by t
Jennifer (JC-S)
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
‘What else does an old woman have but memories and fantasies?’

In the present, Nadya Lysenko is a seventy year old woman living in Chicago, surrounded by her family: husband, children and grandchildren. Fifty years have elapsed since she last saw her parents and her sisters in the Western Ukraine, and Nadya has kept many secrets during those fifty years. At sixteen, Nadya left her home one night to meet a Gypsy fortune teller in the nearby woods. Nadya was keen to have her fortune told, and while
Cindy Gelpi
May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you like historical fiction and books that bring another culture to life, this is a must-read!

Having not known much about the history of the Ukrainian people during the second World War, reading this story was like taking a walk in the shoes of the narrator, 70 year-old Nadya Lysenko, and reliving her heart-wrenching experiences during this turbulent and hellish time. We feel her intense and conflicting feelings towards her first love Stephan, her deep guilt and confusion over a simple decisi
Dan W
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was caught by the description of this book while looking for a new read. People seem to like it here on Goodreads as well so I gave it a shot. Set in WWII Ukraine the book starts strong with flavors of the magic and boundless possibility of youth set against the cold cruelty of war. Our hero sets out to find her future, but instead the future finds her.

The narrative pans between present day and flashback to the horrors of the war. The prose is lovely and lilting, and the smattering of brutali
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it
This story artfully blends several themes as we learn about a young girl from the Ukraine whose life is uprooted by WWII. The book addresses the nature of fate, the importance of traditions and family, the ability for the human spirit to overcome loss and tragedy and create a meaningful life. Interspersed throughout the story are mystical elements and superstitions that are presented in such a matter of fact way that one believes that such elements are in everyone's life, if only we would pay at ...more
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
(to read this review in German, go to

I came to this audiobook via the tweets of the narrator herself, Xe Sands, while she was recording THE SILENCE OF TREES. The quotes were touching, mysterious, poetic. And Xe's voice, which I know from other occasions, was a very promising fit for the story. So I decided to buy the audiobook from (btw, they were extremely helpful when I messed up the first download attempt – great service, also for non-US customer
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Mythology, traditions, and folklore blend into the weave of a woman's life as she struggles to come to terms with her past and carve out a new life and new beginnings. I was blown away by the richness of the prose, the intensity of a story that spans different time periods and different continents, and most of all, by how seamlessly Valya Dudycz Lupescu was able to connect all the complex threads and satisfy the reader on so many different levels - narrative, style, character. At first I read sl ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, audio
This book is beautiful and mesmerizing, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. I love the superstitions interwoven into the story and how storytelling is so important to the Ukrainian people.

Nadya is 70 years old but still haunted by events in the Ukraine that happened during WWII when she was really a mere child. But this is also about family and the things we keep to ourselves and the things we think others don’t know and how that affects how we live our lives and the relationships
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I loved the history (the German invasion of the Soviet Union) and the traditions that Nadya tried to hard to keep alive with her family, I felt that the story jumped around a lot. This might have been more a technical issue with the book (it was downloaded onto my Kindle, and I have found that sometimes there are typos or issues with spacing in Kindle books). There weren't larger spaces between Nadya's memories and her real, present-day life, which co ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nadya Lysenko is an old woman that we meet in the present day, living in Chicago's Ukrainian community. We hear her story in flashbacks, from her beginnings as a peasant girl in the Ukraine during the horror of WWII, through workcamps and "Displaced Person" camps, through loves lost and found, through deaths and destruction. And in the midst of all of it, there is woven her orthodox Catholic faith and the folklore of her native country. These two seemingly disparate belief systems exist perfectl ...more
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Set in the Ukraine, Germany, and Chicago before, during, and after World War II, The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu is a story of regret and hope, tradition and change, truth and truth again. As a young woman, Nadya is preoccupied by the future; she forgets the present, and the present slips away on the most brutal of terms. Haunted all her life by visions of what might have been, time and fate seem to conspire to allow this woman to taste her dreams and to be satisfied.

Lupescu's novel
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Holyn
Beautiful, lyrical book told through flashbacks of Nadya, a Ukrainian woman who as a young girl survived the horrific events in the Ukraine as the Germans fled and the Russians approached towards the end of World War II. The book is told through Nadya’s memories and flashbacks and she reflects on her choices and lifetime consequences of those choices. I loved the Ukrainian folklore, traditions, and superstitions that were woven throughout, especially the importance of family. I am not a person w ...more
I really enjoyed this story of a woman who lost everything in Ukraine when German soldiers invaded her village. She fought those demons all her life in silence. It's a story of renewed life as she slowly faced those demons.

I found the story to be lyrical and poetic which created the mystical fairy tale feel as the story is steeped in the beliefs and legends of the Ukrainian people.

The narration by Xe Sands added an ethereal quality to the story. This is the first book that I have listened to tha
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this was only 0.99 to download at B&N.
My friend recommended this book to me and I loved it. I think my book club members might like it too so I'm going to recommend it the next time we plan out books. It's historical fiction, but not too heavy on the history of which my fellow members are not passionate about like me. It's a multiple-layered story to promote discussion and contains diverse characters whose intentions could be interpreted in different ways.
Nanci de Suffren
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I seldom read a book that truly resonates as deeply as this book. The story of Nadya, a child of an ugly war, grown into a women imprisoned by her guilt and regret is rich in the values of family, tradition and the love that ultimately gives her the courage to break out of her self-imposed prison. This is a story that teaches so many lessons - forgiveness, family, tradition and above all love. I will recommend this book to everyone as a "must read." ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
10 Stars! This story is full of so much emotion that I found the last pages hard to see thru my tears. Filled with traditions, rituals, broken and fullfilled dreams, lost and found love, brutal facts of war and, above all, hope. You will find yourself wanting to sit and have coffee with these people.
O, and for the person on Amazon who reviewed it as an editing error because New Year's was celebrated before Christmas...all I can say is look up Ukranian holidays.
John Kehoe
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A very moving and beautifully written novel. The author's unique phrasing gave such a tangible tension to all Nadya's emotions, both repressed and occasionally freed. Several people close to me during my life were survivors of the Soviet-Nazi-Soviet persecution. This helped explain to me, in many ways, why they chose never to talk about the details. A very well written novel. ...more
Sep 05, 2011 added it
Shelves: recommend
Diane, very well said. It has just enough of everything without becoming a historical account. A well written book should leave you feeling really satisfied that upon conclusion your time was not a waste, and the best will also leave you thirsty enough to desire a sequel!
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book, and total surprise purchasing it on a whim. Wonderful description of a culture I know little about.
May 10, 2012 added it
Few books bring tears to my eyes. This story openned my heart wide.
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction, Eastern European folklore, or how history can have a lingering effect on a character's actions.

The Silence of Trees is a moving book on the effects of war, love, family, tradition, community and truly living. Throughout the book, Ms. Lupescu blends a great deal of Ukrainian folklore into the story, almost making the folklore a character on it's own. The folklore adds greatly to both the depth of her characters and
This is not the type of book that I usually read. I downloaded it because it was offered for free, and I ended up really liking it.

The story begins in the Ukraine during World War II. Nadya is a sixteen-year-old girl who sneaks out of her house one night because she wants to have her fortune told by gypsies who are camping nearby. She returns home just before dawn to find her house burned by German soldiers, and her family gone. She flees -- first with her boyfriend, a defector from the German
I have just finished reading The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu. This is a story of a woman, born and living in the Ukraine at the time of the German occupation who suffered the loss of all family and friends and saw many horrific acts of war during WWII and in the aftermath.

Afterwards, she married a former Ukrainian soldier, moved to the United States, settled in Chicago and had a fruitful life but she was tortured by nightmares of the war and what she had seen there. She did not co
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Let this book be an example for all of those who claim I only hate Twilight and Eragon because of the bad grammar and poor punctuation. Lupescu's book was amazing. Normally, historical fiction is not up my alley, because it was how I learned history in my years homeschooling (and was therefore a chore and not a pleasure). However, this book was very much grounded in the emotional journey of the main character, who was startlingly empathetic for being someone I would dislike in real life. And ami ...more
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Which of your grandmother's superstitions do you carry on? 4 29 Aug 05, 2013 06:45PM  
Audiobooks: Listen-Along for THE SILENCE OF TREES 30 51 May 20, 2012 02:47PM  

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Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. Valya is the author of The Silence of Trees (Wolfsword Press) and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen Segal, she is the co-author of Forking Good (Quirk Books) and Geek Parenting (Quirk Boo ...more

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