The Photograph


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
226 Pages
Reviewed on 07/02/2020
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Author Biography

Kat Karpenko is of Ukrainian descent, born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada but has spent most of her life in Nova Scotia. Her writing portfolio contains newspaper and magazine articles, technical manuals, short stories, and her first book, 'Emma's Ghost', a historical novel based in Nova Scotia featuring difficult times during the Halifax Explosion. She has worked at Halifax's Mount Saint Vincent University and Dalhousie University in various administrative capacities and has lived in England and Australia for periods of time over the years. Now retired from Dalhousie University she devotes her energy to creative writing and divides her time between Canada and Mexico with her husband Gene Hood.

    Book Review

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.

Jude Jackson

5-Star
The Photograph is a remarkable story of a family caught in a Bolshevik domination resulting in the Ukrainian genocide of which, I sadly confess, I had no previous knowledge. It chronicles the lives of a family divided by their decisions about how to survive the onslaught. Kat Karpenko, the granddaughter of the real Nicholai and Juliana who escaped to Canada, dedicates the book to their courage and foresight. I found her to be a skilled and evocative writer. Historically accurate and compelling to read, The Photograph will inform, amaze and move you to tears. Don’t miss it!
Jude Jackson, Author of Chasing Glitter

C.C. Brondwin


5-star review by C.C. Brondwin

Sitting here after midnight, I am unable to put down this fascinating historical novel, The Photograph, by Kat Karpenko. It is based on a true story of a close family in Ukraine during Stalin’s reign of terror. The family tale is told so compellingly, and at the same time, I was surprised to learn a great deal about the changing political climate that led to the little known genocide by the Russians that killed so many people by execution, starvation and incarceration that ultimately tore apart and decimated so many families.

I was amazed how flawlessly the author wove historical information into this fascinating novel, as though the reader, like the characters, was slowly beginning to understand what was going on politically and how it would impact dramatically on their own lives with disastrous and deadly outcomes.

The novel is also timely for it echoes the current uncertain situation in the US with the growing political upheavals, along with the initial denial of many people of the seriousness of the illnesses and fatalities caused by the pandemic that is wreaking havoc on personal lives and future prospects. In order to survive these dangerous times and protect their families people must make difficult choices.

The story is a sad one, but it lifts you up and inspires through the family’s courage and determination. I found myself very involved with the characters and their unfolding personalities. Each faced the dangers in their own way.

This author keeps you engaged on a personal level and at the same time seamlessly enlightens and informs — that is truly a skill. This book had me from the start to the finish. I highly recommend it.

Sarah


Remarkably readable for hard history
A family photograph set author, Kat Karpenko, on a journey of discovery and what horror she uncovered. Her novel tells of a family dealing with circumstances leading to the Holodomor, the famine-genocide Stalin’s rule brought to Ukraine. The character, Nicholai, based on her grandfather, tries to persuade family members to leave Ukraine as he is about to do. Some are blind to the future he sees so clearly. The story of his escape with his wife and family is followed by the dire conditions for those left behind. Survivor guilt and remorse can silence first-generation immigrants from countries torn by such horrors. Telling the truth of what happened nevertheless remains a duty, one Kat Karpenko, of the second generation, achieves with a remarkably readable historical tale.
Sarah 4-star

5-star review by C.C. Brondwin

Sitting here after midnight, I am unable to put down this fascinating historical novel, The Photograph, by Kat Karpenko. It is based on a true story of a close family in Ukraine during Stalin’s reign of terror. The family tale is told so compellingly, and at the same time, I was surprised to learn a great deal about the changing political climate that led to the little known genocide by the Russians that killed so many people by execution, starvation and incarceration that ultimately tore apart and decimated so many families.

I was amazed how flawlessly the author wove historical information into this fascinating novel, as though the reader, like the characters, was slowly beginning to understand what was going on politically and how it would impact dramatically on their own lives with disastrous and deadly outcomes.

The novel is also timely for it echoes the current uncertain situation in the US with the growing political upheavals, along with the initial denial of many people of the seriousness of the illnesses and fatalities caused by the pandemic that is wreaking havoc on personal lives and future prospects. In order to survive these dangerous times and protect their families people must make difficult choices.

The story is a sad one, but it lifts you up and inspires through the family’s courage and determination. I found myself very involved with the characters and their unfolding personalities. Each faced the dangers in their own way.

This author keeps you engaged on a personal level and at the same time seamlessly enlightens and informs — that is truly a skill. This book had me from the start to the finish. I highly recommend it.