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by William Durbin

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-439-37307-7
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

At the height of the Depression, when it seemed capitalism had failed, “Karelian fever” spread among Finnish-American communities in the northern US and Canada. Attracted by a sense of adventure and the dream of creating an independent Finnish republic in Russia, six thousand North American Finns migrated. Jake Maki’s father, a socialist blacklisted for joining the IWW union, moves his family to Russia, but conditions in Russia are terrible. Then Stalin’s purges begin, and the “Red broom” of totalitarianism sweeps away all who might oppose the Communist Party. Friends start disappearing, and Jake’s older brother and father are arrested. Jake, his little sister Maija, and his mother are aided in a thrilling escape, skiing north to Finland. Taking a little-known historical event for its context, Durbin’s historical fiction is every bit as exciting as the best adventure tale, as Jake must prove his sisu, the Finnish word for intelligence and courage that allows one to survive. Readers will learn an important side of 20th-century history as they root for Jake. (Fiction. 10-14)