Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin

This title was a Newbery Honor winner this year. The setting is Moscow, Russia during Stalin’s rule. The main character is a young boy whose father is a high level officer for Stalin who turns in ‘traitors’ and anyone who is anti-Stalin, anti-Communism. The young boy (11 years old or so) is completely brainwashed into believing Stalin is the greatest and is ready to dedicate his life to him and the cause. However, that night officers come and take his father away. Presumably he was turned in by a neighbor as it seems was common practice: everyone accusing anyone, people being imprisoned and killed without evidence.  The action mostly takes place in the boy’s school as he is slow to realize his father is not coming back and that he himself is in danger of being accused of being a traitor as well as his new status of orphan. I knew nothing of this time in history. While I enjoyed the book and its illustrations, it might confuse young readers who know less than I do about the subject. However, it had a great sense of time and place; the cold, frigid temperature of Russia, and the fear that everyone was in danger of being next in line to be killed.

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