cover image The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine

The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine

Katherine Marsh. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-31360-7

A 13-year-old boy discovers a dark family secret in this stirring volume by Marsh (Nowhere Boy). As the Covid-19 lockdown begins, Matthew is stuck in his Leonia, N.J., home with his divorced magazine editor mother and his 100-year-old Ukrainian-born great-grandmother Nadiya, called GG. Struggling to adjust to the new reality, Matthew finds comfort in playing video games, until his mother takes away his gaming console and orders him to help GG organize her personal belongings. When he finds a photo of two girls, labeled “Nadiya and Helen,” GG reluctantly divulges that she and her cousin Helen had once been a trio, and that what happened to the third cousin, Mila, is a “terrible secret,” spurring Matthew to learn more about GG’s past. Captivating first-person POV chapters—which alternate between Matthew in 2020 N.J. and Helen, Nadiya, and Mila in 1930s Brooklyn and Kyiv—vividly render the suffering caused by Stalin’s imposed famine, Holodomor; the event’s perception around the world; and the aftereffects that ripple into Matthew’s present. Helen and Matthew’s growing understanding of the tenets of responsible journalism link their stories as each seeks to uncover the truth and report on their discoveries. An author’s note concludes. Ages 10–14. (Jan.)