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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Crossing the Border is a collection of short stories by Ksenia Rychtycka. The title of this collection itself presents myriad moments in life with nine stories set in Ukraine and reaching to the United States and Greece. Love, disillusionment, tragedy, strength and perseverance are highlighted through an ensemble of relatable characters and themes such as family, politics and self-discovery.
Through Rychtycka’s deft prose, the intense emotions that are inevitably felt in the narrative are keenly and clearly portrayed, making the reading engaging. That said, some stories outweigh others and I do have my personal favorites. One of them is ‘Babtsia,’ a story about Lina, who’d arrived from America to visit her grandmother in Ukraine. They bond through old memories, a moving moment that reminds me of my own late grandmother.
Readers will relate to Rychtycka’s unflinchingly honest yet sensitive portrayal of sentiments. The collective points of view and the good sense of place left me satisfied. Several characters had stayed with me long after I was done. Some felt carefully polished over a long period of time, as they had a certain level of peculiarity indicating that. This is no surprise though, as Rychtycka herself mentioned in her acknowledgement that “this book has been years in the making.”
The bottom line is that all the stories examine what it is to be human and that is always what makes a book compelling to me. I know little about Ukraine and its people. Author Rychtycka let me see the intimate part of the Ukrainian history, culture and its community. This is an excellent collection from Rychtycka and I look forward to her future works.