The Lost Daughters of Ukraine by Erin Litteken

One of the best books I read last year was The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken, so when I heard she had a new book out, I really wanted to read it. This is a sequel in some respects, as Katya and Alina from the first book are included (Katya is Halya’s mother), but it’s easy to read as a standalone, as these stories are self-contained and set in a later time period.

The story follows the lives of three daughters of Ukraine – Liliya, Halya and Vika.

It begins with Liliya in Soviet Ukraine, June 1941. She is fifteen years old and lives with her parents. She is with her eighteen-year-old brother’s dead body. The Soviets have occupied Ukraine for two years and this is just one thing Liliya hates them for. They are also under attack from Nazi Germany.

We then move forward in time to August 1941 and meet Halya who is in Kyiv, Soviet Ukraine. She is nine years old and overhears her parents talking about Stalin’s scorched earth policy. She likes climbing her favourite tree and reading her poetry book there.

Finally, we meet Vika in December 1941, in Volhynia, Reichkommisariat Ukraine, controlled by the German Army. Vika is married to Maksym and they have three children – Slavko (12), Sofia (10) and Bohdan (8). After Liliya moved to Kholm, Vika and her family moved into their house.

We follow these three girls through the 1940s.

The characters in this book are beautiful – such strong women, all dealing with the worse situations of war, grief, loss and fear. Their whole lives are torn apart, yet they go on. So inspirational. Although a work of fiction, the author says parts of the story are based on the experience of her own family and the realism shines through.

While parts of the novel are violent, depressing, terribly sad and incredibly unfair, this isn’t the main thing you feel while reading it. The themes of war and death are alongside strong, positive themes of family and love and these bring joy into the story. Despite everything, parents look after their children and people fall in love.

It is an emotional read and not an easy one, but it is well worth the effort because it feels an important story and one which really brings the history of Ukraine to life. While they are currently at war, thanks to Putin, this reminds us how badly they have been treated in the past by the Soviet Union as well as by Nazi Germany and Poland. But it also beautifully illustrates the braveness and resilience of the Ukrainian people.


The Lost Daughters of Ukraine

A story of the strength of the human spirit, the personal cost of conflict and how love can be found even in the darkest times.

Summer 1941. War rages in Europe. The Germans march towards Ukraine. Halya, Liliya and Vika are no strangers to sorrow. They lost family during the Holodomor, loved ones in Stalin’s purges, and war looms once more on the horizon.

Vika lives in fear for her children. She and her sister survived the terror famine by leaving their whole family behind. Now, years later, many believe the Germans will free them from the Soviets, but she’s not so sure. Should they stay in Volhynia or flee the approaching Eastern front?

Liliya has lost too much in her 17 years. As those around her join the resistance, Liliya wonders how she can fight for her friends, family, and country. When the choice is made for her, can she find the will to survive and protect those still with her?

Twelve-year-old Halya is struggling to discover who she is. But as the war escalates, can her mother Katya’s tactics keep her safe from the Nazi soldiers rounding up slave laborers? How can a child survive the horrors of war on her own?

These daughters of Ukraine will face devastation and loss as they fight to survive and protect the ones they love.

A gripping page-turner of love, loss and resilience for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

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Author Bio –

Erin Litteken is a debut novelist with a degree in history and a passion for research. At a young age, she was enthralled by stories of her family’s harrowing experiences in Ukraine before, during and after World War II. She lives in Illinois, USA with her husband and children.

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Published by karenlouisehollis

53, lives in Lincoln, England. Published writer, book blogger and reviewer, mum, grandma, cat owner, vegetarian. Loves reading and sewing. My second novel is out now - a second chance romance set at the seaside - STARTING AGAIN IN SILVER SANDS BAY.

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