Scattered Links

Young Adult

MULTICUTURAL:  Oksana is almost fourteen and living on the streets of Russia. While some girls her age worry about impressing boys and finding the perfect pair of jeans, she has to worry about her pregnant mom, who’s an alcoholic, and an abusive aunt, who works as a prostitute. Not to mention always wondering whether there would be a next meal. By a strange set of circumstances she ends up in the USA with her baby sister. Now she has to learn how to trust again; how to live a completely different life. The question is…can she?


Telling a story about human suffering is never easy, so kudos to Ms. Weidenbenner! Oksana is the heart and soul of this novel – therefore how readers see this book depends largely on how they experience her. Because of her troubles it’s incredibly easy to sympathize with her, yet the writing style makes Oksana feel emotionally distant. The narrative seems a bit like someone writing a report, with little of the emotional subtext coming through. It’s also difficult to write a teenager convincingly, and here the author doesn’t quite succeed, Oksana’s rather simplistic view of the world is hard to reconcile with someone her age, especially someone forced to grow up too fast. A good example: “America is a place where there’s lots of color and people who don’t worry about running water or food.” Ditto with the vilification of all things Russian.  The beauty and possibility of characters’ inner lives is in the complexity of emotions. 


It is nonetheless inspiring seeing Oksana taking on RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and this novel highlights the importance of not giving up on people!


Mimi Smith