An intimate look at a young woman’s struggle to find her own truth in a repressive society.



Grobman’s debut memoir explores her childhood in the Soviet Union.

The author was born into a Jewish family in Moscow in 1951, near the end of Josef Stalin’s reign. As a child, Grobman shared the experiences common to other urban Russians of her generation: overcrowded housing, summertime trips to dachas, enforced social conformity. From an early age, she escaped her Soviet reality by reading stories, beginning with folk tales about mythical figures such as Baba Yaga. When she began school, though, she was indoctrinated into the communist system. Portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Nikita Khrushchev hung on the classroom walls, alongside banners proclaiming, “Thank You Our Dear Communist Party for Our Happy Childhood!” Grobman initially accepted this dogma, but at the same time, she was aware that her family was different than their neighbors’; they were Jews in a society which didn’t tolerate ethnic minorities. Her family conversed in Yiddish at home but didn’t allow her to learn the language for fear that she would stand out and be persecuted. As Grobman entered her teenage years, her eyes began to open to her native country’s brutality and to the past traumas that her family suffered at the hands of both the Nazis and Stalin. Although history looms heavily in the background of the memoir, the author’s accounts of her young life are informed more by her day-to-day experiences with her family, school, and neighborhood than by the broader political situation. The book isn’t filled with drama; rather, most episodes focus on subtler problems arising from the daily indignities of communism, long-simmering family issues, and societal anti-Semitism. The prose is readable and familiar, creating an effect much like listening to a relative recount family stories. Each chapter functions as a stand-alone tale, depicting not only a moment in Grobman’s childhood, but also an aspect of Soviet life. Overall, although this memoir delivers few great revelations and breaks little new ground, it does provide a relatable, personal portrait of Jewish life in Soviet Moscow in the 1950s and ’60s.

An intimate look at a young woman’s struggle to find her own truth in a repressive society.

Pub Date: April 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0692312285

Page Count: -

Publisher: Musings Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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