MY NAME IS ASYA by Kira Michailovskaya
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The Russians are here -- in a story crackling with vitality, glowing with candor, and threaded with thoughtfulness. The scene is Leningrad, in recent times. The heroine, Asya, orphaned during World War II, is studying to be an interpreter-guide for foreign tourists. Her first group of tourists arrives, she is nervous and eager, but she manages well, and they part exchanging gifts. She meets Yuri, an architectural student, who fills her thoughts. She guides many groups of tourists and acquires confidence. She ponders incidents at the Intourist Office and at her communal apartment. (In one, the superviser is ridiculed by the guides for condemning the acceptance of a pair of stockings from a tourist; in another, a married friend becomes unhappily involved with another man, also married.) Gradually Asya matures, becomes more introspective, and the story becomes more complex. She realizes that Yuri is a ""military communist"" who sees people simply as workers. This point ultimately divides them. Asya volunteers for service at a remote Intourist office, and they part, though she still loves him. It is not the happy ending that Asya herself prefers for a story, but it is convincing. Equally convincing is the relationship between Asya and her contemporaries, sparked with humor, and between Asya and her elders, tinged with mutual concern. The first-person narrative, as translated largely in the present tense, retains the feel of another language, another manner of expression. It's a story of a girl growing up, it's a moving romance, it's a close look at life in an alien context -- it's a lovely book.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1966
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Junior Books