Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor {ends 4/21}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

Before Zoya, the closest I came to returning to Ukraine was in high school, during a Baltic cruise, when we spent a day in St. Petersburg. It was a weird trip; even though it was my first time back abroad, I had become anxious the last week, spending so much time locked in a room with my parents, and was looking forward to seeing Russia and heading back to America. But being Soviet refugees back in Russia was strange. On more than one occasion we overheard the Russian tour guides joking about how fat and ugly the group from our cruise ship was. They didn’t notice we could understand them; that’s how American we’d come to look in our bootcut jeans and Adidas sneakers. No one suspected us of being in our homeland. Maybe because it wasn’t our homeland anymore. The Jews had gone with the ruble, after all. And like my parents said, we were Jews first and Russians second—at least, this had been the case in the USSR. Our passports listed Jewish under nationality. Who knew, maybe we were Americans first now, or refugees first. I wasn’t sure. My identity was such a mess. It was sort of like wearing layers during the time of year that Autumn turns to Winter: when it’s freezing out, you appreciate every one. But when the sun comes out, you want to shed half of it to the ground; you feel suffocated. This is what identity could feel like, for me, sometimes. Like wearing too many coats, then not wearing enough.

Sisters Masha and Anna could be said to have had the same upbringing and background, but their transition and reactions to adulthood couldn’t have made them more different.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor {ends 4/21}
Masha remembers her childhood in the former USSR, but found her life and heart in Israel. Anna was just an infant when her family fled, but yearns to find her roots. When Anna is contacted by a stranger from their homeland and then disappears, Masha is called home to Milwaukee to find her.

In 2008, college student Anna feels stuck in Milwaukee, with no real connections and parents who stifle her artistic talents. She is eager to have a life beyond the heartland. When she’s contacted online by a stranger from their homeland―a girl claiming to be her long lost sister―Anna suspects a ruse or an attempt at extortion. But her desperate need to connect with her homeland convinces her to pursue the connection. At the same time, a handsome grifter comes into her life, luring her with the prospect of a nomadic lifestyle.

Masha lives in Israel, where she went on Birthright and unexpectedly found home. When Anna disappears without a trace, Masha’s father calls her back to Milwaukee to help find Anna. In her former home, Masha immerses herself in her sister’s life―which forces her to recall the life she, too, had left behind, and to confront her own demons. What she finds in her search for Anna will change her life, and her family, forever.

Masha and Anna were never really close sisters, but since they both went to college in Milwaukee, they knew some of the same people and places. So when their dad can’t get a hold of Anna, he calls Masha home from Israel to look for her sister. Masha resents it from the start, and was way happier with her new life in Israel than confronting and being reminded of her old life in Milwaukee.

It just gets worse when she finds her dad may have been lying to all of them, and creating the situation Masha is now expected to get Anna out of. There are a few different places Anna may have fled to, but does their dad know more now than he’s letting on? Masha’s mission to figure out what happened and bring Anna home may be near impossible without the truth about everything that happened before.

Overall, I’d give this family drama 3 out of 5 stars. I loved the little linguistic asides from Masha—words she’d learned in her linguistics studies that had no English equal. Sometimes it’s hard to find just the word to describe what you’re trying to say, but Masha had a lot more words to choose from. It was insightful learning about all of Masha and Anna’s family members and their reactions to the world and their situations as refugees. I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy family dramas, refugee stories, and people who enjoy learning about different world cultures and expectations.

{click HERE to pre-order; the book will be out on April 20, 2021}

Becki Bayley is a Gemini who enjoys reading, some writing, and being a wife and mother. She hopes to see her garden bloom soon, and will share pics on Instagram as PoshBecki.


Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of At the End of the World, Turn Left

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, April 21st, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be emailed the next day, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Open to both U.S. and Canadian residents!

Good luck!

At the End of the World, Turn Left, by Zhanna Slor


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