A Year Without Mom

Dasha Tolstikova. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-55498-692-7
Set amid the disintegration of the Soviet Union, this absorbing graphic memoir follows a year in the life of a 12-year-old Moscow schoolgirl left in the care of her grandparents while her mother studies in the U.S. “Grandpa wakes me up and has the tea brewed by the time I shuffle into the kitchen, but I am on my own for everything else,” Dasha explains. Working in black and white enlivened by occasional splashes of red and blue, Tolstikova (The Jacket) uses a distinctive, naïf pen-and-ink style to capture the bare streets of wintry Moscow and the lively expressions of Dasha and her friends. Readers will discover that beyond the bleak Soviet setting—before moving, her mother wrote “ads for places like Bread Factory #8”—much of the memoir is familiar pre-adolescent territory: difficulties with friends, important exams, and clothing woes. A final section reveals that Dasha will spend the next year in the States with her mother, and the story follows their first weeks there—then ends abruptly. Readers will wish the sequel were available instantly. Ages 10–14. Agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/17/2015
Release date: 10/06/2015
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-1-77306-379-9
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