THE DIARY OF NINA KOSTERINA by Nina Kosterina

THE DIARY OF NINA KOSTERINA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Diary of an Ordinary Girl"" is what Nina calls her entries at the start but these romantic reflections are not at all 'common' in their observation of an individual life. In the four copybooks that begin in 1936 (when she was fifteen) and end with the official notification of her wartime death in 1941, the agonies and ecstasies and, more often, simple experiences of a young girl are recorded with an honesty of emphasis that would be electric if the girl herself were not so insistently exuberant. It's the time of Stalin's Trotskyite trials; what gives Nina's diary credence is the honest priority of personal encounters over political co-incidents. First neighbors, then an uncle, then her own father are arrested as ""enemies of the people"" and although she does mull over the implications she is far more concerned about her two friends, Grisha (m.) and Lena, and the slippery/jagged shifts in their triangular relationship. She belongs to the Komsomol (but does not engage in dialectics), thinks about cosmetics (but not very much about her own body), knows disappointment, then a reversal of fortune in her choice of a career school, makes new friends and loses touch with others. In that context it is an ordinary life but the girl herself is no ordinary reader and as she continues to excerpt from Heine, Tolstoy, Lermontov, Blok, O. Henry, Boccaccio, H. G. Wells, etc., one mentally starts ticking off the girls who will put down the book to gasp for less rarefied air. She hasn't the heart-tug of Anne Frank, a likely comparison, but she does have a convincing combination of uncertainty and vivacity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Crown