Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Lost in Mother Russia: A Memoir by Jill McDowell is an intimate look at Russia set in the middle 1990s. The author, an ESL teacher who teaches at Moscow State University and at the school in the Japanese Embassy, decides to search for her roots in the remote village of Norka. Together with a colleague, they find themselves in the thousand-year-old village of Suzdal, getting lost in some remote backroad 350 kilometers away from Moscow, going to Estonia, to Warsaw, to Moscow and back. And this is in December when the temperature reaches thirty-nine degrees below zero. Throw in the notorious Russian red tape and an array of interesting characters and the result is a wonderfully wacky adventure.
Jill McDowell's Lost in Mother Russia: A Memoir is a funny, informative and highly entertaining trip in the vast snowy expanse of Russia. The memoir unfolds innocently enough but quickly becomes a series of events that are both hilarious and unfortunate. Driven by the desire to trace her roots, McDowell ends up writing a treasure of a memoir. Her writing style is direct, simple and meticulously descriptive. One can almost feel the chill of the wintry weather and the desire to rave and rant at embassy officials. And in the face of what seems like exasperating experiences, she never loses her sense of humor and that's what makes this memoir a gem of a book. This is a book that definitely deserves a precious space in your bookshelf. Have a nice trip!