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Customer Review

80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I spoke to Esther. Her book has impacted me for 22 years., April 7, 2003
This review is from: The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia (Mass Market Paperback)
Esther's wonderfully sincere and illustrative writing will hold even an adult's attention from cover to cover. I have read it over and over again for the last 22 years. As a child in 1979 at age 11, I found myself in my family's frozen garden pretending to be Esther herself, wandering through Siberia in search of frozen potatoes. When I would take a bath, after playing in the snow and getting chilled, I would revel in the marvelous heat of the water and imagine I had just been given a rare cake of soap. When thirsty, I would make myself wait for a drink of cool water from the tap until my throat was parched, so that the first drip of water on my tongue would be heavenly. I would then suck the water into my cheeks as Esther did and swallow very slowly, trying to make it last. My younger sister and I would walk into my dad's livestock truck and pretend we were on a cattle car headed for the Steppe, and we would make a makeshift hut under a log fort we had near the barnyard. Esther's life story filled my thoughts, my days and my head for years following, and reminded me to always care for others and not to take my life in rural United States for granted. Esther wrote in a way that made me feel as if I had somehow managed to form a personal friendship with her.
In 1995, I was able to speak with Esther on the phone, and I have never forgotten that wonderful conversation. Talking with her (she still has a very noticable accent) was as if the book itself came to life, because I realized I was actually visiting with the woman who was the couragous child in the book. Esther's writing encouraged me to be thankful, to be grateful, to be kind, and to never give up. I majored in journalism in college, and though I have never had such an extreme happening in my lifetime, I hope to eventually put down in words something that will touch other's lives as Esther Hautzig touched mine.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 13, 2007 11:48:06 PM PDT
This review captures the real essence of the book, to my way of thinking. The book is not about politics in any sense (the picture near the end of the defeated and doomed German soldiers is very moving even while avoiding phoney 'forgiveness'), it is about living, it is about the terrible things that have always happened to people (usually at other peoples' hands) and always will -- but above all it is about living through as best you can; Esther does not bignote herself, but she is clearly a wonderful person who in her own simple way made the best she could of her life when almost everything had been taken away. Reminds me of My Left Foot in much of its outlook

Posted on Nov 24, 2008 5:03:21 PM PST
Kitty says:
I envy you being able to talk to Esther; the book had quite an influence on me as well. I read it back in the late seventies, around the same time you did and it has come to mind at different times in my life. Facing obstacles is never easy and knowing how desperately terrible the situations in this book were has helped me to face my relatively minor crises. I never had it so bad and hope I never will. We sure do have it easy here in America.

Posted on Oct 8, 2010 3:30:04 PM PDT
Peppermint says:
What an amazing review! I love how you described how thoroughly the book penetrated your little girl heart and how it changed you. You must be a wonderful, thoughtful person. I'm ordering this book IMMEDIATELY so my children and I can experience what you did. You and we may not necessarily know intense suffering in our lives but if we can learn compassion through a well-written book like this one, we may one day become the type of people to alleviate suffering in the lives of others. Thank you again for your review!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 10:41:26 PM PST
Christy says:
Peppermint .. I had forgotten about this review until I found it tonight. I am so glad it inspired you, and I hope you and your children enjoyed the book as much as I did!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 12:10:32 AM PDT
I know you wrote your review 8 years ago (where does the time go?) but your review is the reason I'm buying this book!

Posted on Jun 2, 2011 9:52:36 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2011 9:55:41 AM PDT
I, too, discovered this book at age 10 or 11 and re-read it many times over the years. I love your review because I could have written it myself: I do the same thing with the soap and so many parts of the book (Esther attempting to dye her hair with the clay, her grandmother's ritual of pushing back her cuticles, for example) seem to pop into my head at random times. This is a book that has had a strong impact on my life, even 40 years after I first read it. It started my lifelong interest in World War II and the Holocaust. I came here looking for a copy of this book for my son to read and found your wonderful review. (How wonderful that you got to speak to Esther!) I feel I've glimpsed a kindred spirit! Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 11:57:06 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 14, 2011 11:58:51 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 11:58:26 PM PST
Christy says:
Jackie .. I just saw your comment. So good to know there are others who understand the impact of this story. Thanks for posting!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 14, 2011 11:59:27 PM PST
Christy says:
Wonderful! I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2012 5:28:38 AM PST
esther rudomin was lithuanian, not polish!
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