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Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood Hardcover – May, 1989


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Ticknor & Fields; First Edition edition (May 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899195113
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899195117
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,788,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps the one revelation in this genteel, interesting if unsophisticated memoir is that there is a certain universality about growing up middle-class, whether in Moscow or Mobile. A Jew, and an only child, who in 1980 (at age 17) emigrated to the U.S. with her father, a record engineer, and mother, a music teacher, Young had a comfortable life in the Soviet capital: cultured parents, two-bedroom apartment, dacha, education at a privileged school. Her parents were not of the establishment, however, so were not spared the inconveniences of the Russian consumer; and although not dissidents, they provided their daughter with "heretical counterpoints to the orthodoxies." The author writes of her classrooms and of her life as a teen in a society in which young people, with no pressures of a dating ritual or to hold after-school jobs, interest themselves not only in pop-music idols but also in books. No momentous happenings disrupt the calm tempo of events recounted here--despite the author's protestations about "living the lie" in the U.S.S.R.--for even the family's emigration was smooth. And although raised in a non-religious household, Young, now a New Jerseyan, makes a startlingly sweeping observation about Soviet Jews: "They would much rather live as Russians than as Jews."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Brought up in a relatively comfortable Moscow household by parents who taught her early on to disbelieve the regime's propaganda, Young didn't have what one would call a typical Soviet childhood. Nevertheless, this is the most vivid account yet of middle-class life in Brezhnev's Russia, a richly detailed depiction of Soviet manners and morals unlikely to be surpassed in the near future. Having spent the latest third of her life in America, Young knows what will be interesting and relevant for an American audience, making this one of those few works by Soviet emigres that can appeal to a broad range of readers. She touches upon almost every aspect of Soviet life, conveys a historical perspective, and presents a wide range of often compelling characters.
- Robert Decker, Columbia
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kelly L. Norman VINE VOICE on August 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a shame this book went out of print so quickly. The author was a fresh, naive immigrant at the time, with perhaps a tendency to engage in a cliche or two but with a very witty turn of phrase. She acknowledged upfront the fact that her experience in Moscow--one that included a nanny, summers at a dacha and in Latvia, and a father with an important job with Melodiya who seemed very wise to the ways of politics--differed from those of the average schoolgirl. Those caveats aside, Young (Jung in her native Russian) engages us in a story of a girl growing up as a Jew in Brezhnev's Russia, to some extent aware of the differences in politics amongst adults around her, to some extent just being a kid, ironically learning and performing in her appartment for Mama and Papa "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Lloyd-Weber's "Jesus Christ Superstar." As she discusses her life in a special English school for which she qualified from first grade to tenth, when she emmigrated, the anecdotes she tells of herself and other children are amazing both for their similarity to Western primary and secondary educational experiences, and their differences. One of the more horrific scenes schoolchildren (not the author) become involved in has to do with a hockey game, at night, where many Western tourists are attending. Kids would know that Westerners would have gum, candy, and other treats to hand out, and would, in gestures highly embarrrassing to the Soviet heirarchy, not wanting their populace to have a third world sheen, grab, beg, and run for such treasures. Apparently to stop this from happening, when the hockey game let out and the children were waiting as expected, all lights on the outside of the arena and parking lot were turned off.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "madradish" on June 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was lent this book by a friend who grew up in Soviet Russia. The author has done a magnificent job of illustrating what life was like under the communist regime. Soviet Moscow seen through the vivid memories of a young girl is a fascinating and sometimes disturbing place.
I enjoyed the opportunity to be taken inside a different culture and shown around by such a masterful writer. I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in first hand accounts of Soviet Russia or biographies that illustrate a different lifestyle. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Molly Tebo on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A friend lent me this book to give me a feel of what her childhood was like. It paints a vivid picture of Soviet Russia seen through the eyes of a young girl. It was a fascinating and insightful read that taught me a great deal about a very different way of life.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in Soviet Russia or who likes to read biographies that illustrate a different culture to their own. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James E. Henry on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book out of curiosity. How could someone named Cathy Young have grown up in the Soviet Union? Well, it turns out that she was born Ekatarina Jung and her name was adapted to American tastes.

The book gave a very vivid picture of a young Jewish girl/adolescent encountering the growing intrusion of the Soviet system into every aspect of her moral/intellectual life. Young gives vivid examples of the moral compromises she was compelled to make to prevent severe reprisals on herself or her family. Young never spares herself from criticism of actions she felt compelled to make.

It was obvious from the text that the Jung family were not observant Jews. There was no difficulty in consuming pork products and no attempt to develop a distinct Jewish identity. The book's statement that the vast majority of Soviet Jews would have been delighted to become the most loyal of Soviet citizens, if only the system would allow them, is telling. The Jung family enjoyed a comfortable life by Soviet standards. The decision for the family to emigrate came with difficulty. Only the increasing intrusion of the state into their private life pushed them to take the decision to emigrate.

I read Young's account of her childhood with growing admiration. She became well versed in Russian literature as well as from many foreign sources. Some of these works were banned and the family took considerable risk in keeping them in their apartment. Young was able to become fluent in English, German, and French as well as her native tongue. Apparently, she was able to master any subject that caught her interest. While in Rome awaiting her visa to emigrate to the United States, Young picked up a considerable understanding of Italian as well.
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Well written and astute, Katya Jung (Cathy Young) did an outstanding job of capturing life in the former Soviet Union in the 70's and 80's.
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