cover image Forever Nineteen

Forever Nineteen

Grigory Baklanov. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, $13.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-397-32296-1

At 19, Volodya Tretyakov is an old man. The Russian lieutenant has fought the Germans on the steppes of the Western Soviet Union for two years, and, as Hitler's armies are driven back, Tretyakov is as resigned as any man on the front. The Germans are beaten, he thinks, so why are they still fighting? He is wounded, recovers and is returned to the front. He encounters dedicated and despairing soldiers under his command, all young, all fodder for the huge rolling machine of war. He is wounded again, and disappears like so many others in the violence. Detailed in incident and generous in scope, the novel lets the specifics of combat speak for themselves. Its worthiness is in the depiction of the particularly Russian experience of the war. Credit the supple translation for keeping the author's way of seeing intact; this is graphic and accurate, as poignant as the passing of youth. Ages 12-up. (May)