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Reviewed by Alysha Allen for Readers' Favorite
Caught in the Current, the debut novel by Daniel Hryhorczuk, is a bildungsroman that explores the identity which Alec, a Ukrainian-American college student, struggles to create for himself throughout his journey through Europe and the places he grew up in. On the “Offbeat Europe” tour that he joins as part of the Ukrainian Youth Organization with his former high school, Alec visits the Soviet Union in order to connect with his ethnic background. However, his other mission in the Ukraine is to procure information from members of the Ukrainian nationalist movement. Before long, he has the whole of the KGB following his every movement across Europe. As we pursue Alec through the rubble of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Munich, Paris, and finally the Catskills of New York, it isn’t long before we, too, become embroiled in his pursuit for meaning, life, and above all, love.
Hryhorczuk depicts the “sexperimental” Sixties with evocative clarity. Even for those not born or alive in this groovy and revolutionary age, Caught in the Current is enjoyable to read - not only for its descriptive Kerouacian hitchhiking expeditions, but for the apt choice of music set to the novel by momentous musicians of the time such as Neil Young, the Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Despite the occasional alcohol usage, it is most striking that Alec never gets caught up in the hallucinatory and mind-altering escapades which his companions are so fond of taking. Instead, the trek through his existential crisis, though sober and lucid, becomes more enlightening and vivid than perhaps any mushroom or green could ever be.