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Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
Kat Karpenko is a Canadian of Ukrainian descent and she dedicates her book, The Photograph, to her grandparents. Nicholai and Juliana Karpenko had the foresight and courage to leave their prosperous farm and their beloved family members to protect their children. A lovely photograph of the extended family was taken at a farewell party in their honor. This photograph graces the beginning of the book and brings their story to life. Nicholai saw how Stalin’s authoritarian Five-Year Plan would threaten their livelihood, as his military confiscated farms, its animals, and other personal property. Under the plan, collectivization and grain quotas became more and more difficult each year. Although Nicholai tried to persuade his siblings and families to emigrate to Canada, only several agreed to consider this option. As Stalin’s directives continued, a horrific famine called the Holodomor was created. The remaining Karpenko family members’ attempts to survive during this period are remarkable, but not always successful.
This book is based on historical facts, and the author notes the characters and storyline are fictional. This account will affect every reader as she crafts realistic characters with real emotions and physical struggles during a time of unfathomable circumstances. The book is divided into three sections – the emigration of Nicholai’s family; the family who stayed, from 1929-1931; the Holodomor during 1932-1933. Her story is compelling and deeply moving. The Photograph written by Kat Karpenko is an unforgettable book. It is both heartwarming and heartrending while imparting important historical information about this terrible period of time when millions of Ukrainians died. Truly memorable.