Monday, July 11, 2016

Like a River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart

About the Book:
The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.

Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.

Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch." He survives, but not without devastating consequences.

Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.

Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer's plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism.

Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

My review:
Stuart has written a good novel covering many of the aspects of the Germans invading Russia, specifically Ukraine. The novel presents well the inhumane nature of the war. Women and girls were raped. People were shot indiscriminately. For the Nazis, life had little value.

But there were some Germans, and soldiers, who did not get taken in by the Nazi philosophy. Some understood that there were different ways to think and the value of mankind was more than just the Nazi ideal. (317) Stuart also takes us into the mind of a soldier who obeys his orders to kill but has nightmares that haunt him. While there is much cruelty portrayed in the novel, there are also tender relationships presented.

There were a couple aspects of the novel that I found difficult. One was writing in the present tense. I found that reading the present tense was not as comfortable for me and detracted from the pace of the novel. Also, the novel is written from the first person viewpoints of the four characters. I found that a bit confusing. I would have liked to have had a list of characters at the beginning of the book. I had to try to remember the character again, after reading the first person accounts of the other three characters in between. There were times when I felt like I was reading four individual novels.

I would have also liked to have had an afterward in the book that explained which parts of the novel were based on historical fact. The author did inform reviewers by email that many of the experiences in the novel were based on stories from people she met while visiting Kiev as a teen. Much of the novel, therefore, is based on actual experience.

This is a good novel of WW II. It portrays the horror of the time as well as some of the heroes. Even though I found some aspects of the novel lacking I do recommend it as a moving account of a terrible time in our past.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Kelli Stuart is the co-author of two nonfiction books and has written for brands such as Disney. She and her family live in Florida. You can find out more at

Kregel Publications, 368 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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