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Like a River from Its Course Paperback – June 27, 2016
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"Fiction is a vehicle for growing in empathy for and understanding of this world. The magic of fiction is its ability to draw in the reader, to coax him or her to put on the shoes of the characters and go for a walk in those shoes. In Like a River from Its Course, Kelli Stuart worked this magic. The terror of the novel is its glimpse into the potential for human evil. The beauty is the way in which people can be instruments of grace and mercy in the darkest of circumstances. Raw, vulnerable, horrifying, beautiful, and true, this novel is a mirror for us to gaze into, to see our potential for good or ill. It nudges us to choose the path of love for those in need, regardless of what it may cost. This is a novel I will not soon forget." (Susie Finkbeiner, author of A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl 2016-04-01)
"A carefully researched, compassionately written journey into Ukraine at the height of World War II. Stuart brings her story vividly to life with warm, believable characters and vivid writing." (Anne Bogel, modernmrsdarcy.com 2016-04-01)
“A chilling and lyrical treatise to faith in a time of tragedy, Like a River from Its Course is brimming with luscious imagery and characters who entrench themselves in your heart. Stuart weaves the travails of Kiev with the unfailing hope of Luda, Ivan, and Maria. Deft research, expert prose, and heart-clenching moments combine in a resplendent historical reading experience. This isn’t just a historical fiction debut--this is a well-crafted piece of art.” (Rachel McMillan, author of The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder 2016-04-01)
About the Author
Kelli Stuart is the coauthor of Dare 2B Wise and has written for several brands including Disney, American Girl, and Short Fiction Break. She has served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. In addition to her writing, Kelli has spent twenty years studying Ukranian culture. Kelli lives in Florida and blogs at KelliStuart.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
I lived in Ukraine for nearly six years. Kelli Stuart captures true aspects of Ukrainian culture which are often overlooked by western writers. Some descriptions brought back my own vivid memories. I had tears reading again of Babi Yar.
Currently, Putin's Russia has occupied Ukrainian Crimea and is involved in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The Ukranian people through the Orange Revolution and EuroMaidan keep fighting for an honest government and a country free from corruption and rule of the post-Soviet oligarchs. The strength and spirit of the Ukrainian people shines in this book and shines still today.
The plot and characters were strong, especially for a first time author. While this book stands on its own, I'd be thrilled to read more from Ms. Stuart set in Ukraine.
Here are a few examples. First, a young daughter, describing her mother - WHILE THEIR HOME IS BEING SHELLED BY GERMANS:
"Mama, like Anna, is small and gentle. Her light brown hair is long and soft, though she rarely wears it down. Every day Mama twists it into an elegant bun at the nape of her neck ... Mama's eyes are a warm brown and reveal the depths of her very being ..."
And on and on. Here's another, from Frederick Hermann, the young German storm trooper:
"I'm not tall like Father. I bear the unfortunate stature of my mother and have small delicate features that fail to give me the formidableness of the great Tomas Hermann."
Or this, from a motherless Ukrainian teenager living with her drunken father, wondering what her mother was like:
"I don't know if her laugh sounded like a thousand bells or a babbling brook ... In my mind she is the very picture of love ... In my mind her voice is a melody and her movements a beat."
Or this from a father, crawling from beneath the bodies in Babi Yar, trying to bring out with him a neighbor's traumatized little girl, Polina:
"... pulling ourselves up the side of the death ditch. Polina glanced back once more at the place where her parents lie buried. She lifted her hand to her mouth then blew a soft kiss before turning and grabbing hold of a small root, pulling herself up over the edge."
And then there's this from Luda, the girl who has been gang-raped and impregnated by three German soldiers, who then agrees to participate in a partisans' plan to entice two other Germans into a trap, and suddenly finds herself romantically attracted to one of them:
"... I move toward him. I am completely out of control of both my mind and my heart. I simply need to be touched by him one more time. I need to feel the heat of his hand and the power of his goodness. Confusion and fear mix with something I've never known: passion and bravery ... Again I feel the electricity of his touch. It's as if the dead parts of my soul awake."
This last was the straw that broke the camel's back, that caused me to stop reading. Because despite the shifting point of view, the voice is always the same, and it all comes out sounding like a women's romance-adventure novel. I struggled through nearly a hundred pages of this stuff, but I was certainly not going to keep slogging through another 250 pages of more of the same. This is supposed to be a book about the horrors of World War II on the Russian front, about that inhuman 'final solution' Hitler and his henchmen concocted, about the Babi Yar MASSACRE, for cripesake. Nope. Enough. Too tidy, too sanitized, too 'chick-lit' -sounding, almost to the point of silliness. My regrets to the author, Kelli Stuart. Perhaps certain women readers will like this book. I did not, and cannot recommend it.