Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Review: Like Footprints in the Wind (A Generation Lost) by Pamela Atherstone

Title:  Like Footprints in the Wind:  A Generation Lost
Author:  Pamela Atherstone
Genre:  Literary Fiction, Historical, Christian
Publisher:  Outskirts Press, Inc.
Release Date:  January 9, 2013

About the Book:

“There will be nothing left to harvest. It will all become clear tomorrow.”

Few people know about the “Purge of the Kulaks” in Russia, as this is a suppressed part of history. Based on real stories of people who actually lived through this terrible time, the fictional Jahnle family is falsely “evacuated” from their farm in a small village near the Black Sea, and begins their journey north, into the unknown, with many other German-Russian families like them. It is nearly harvest season of 1929. Not understanding what is happening to them, the family experiences adventure at the beginning of their trek, as they traverse the first four hundred miles by horse and wagon. During this trip they come into contact with the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs, which later becomes the foundation of the KGB.) They are loaded into an overcrowded cattle-car on a very long train and taken nearly nine-hundred miles to the labor camps on the coast of the White Sea, near the town of Onega, in western Siberia. Here they are exposed to separation, interrogation, starvation, over-work, cruelty and death. The ever-present love of the family members for one another, combined with the solid foundation of their faith in God, runs like a fine silk thread holding them together through the worst of situations, and yet doubt and disbelief often permeate their souls. But this story is not all doom and gloom. There is hope and the promise of a better life for some of them.

BEST FICTION OF THE YEAR 2013 FIRST PLACE: HISTORICAL FICTIONRebecca's Reads Choice AwardsReviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (8/13)...a Historical novel in every sense of the word. I do believe though, that it brings much more to the table than is normally associated with that particular genre. You have a sweeping tale of family and tribulations and love and faith. You have a place and time that evokes distance from modern life. All of this is the normal thing for such a work but somehow the author brings it to us in a way that makes us able to feel the world inhabited by the Jahnle family and those around them, as if it were actually us, or loved ones of our own. The story comes alive fully and enables us to live it along with the characters. This is rare in Historical undertakings. And welcome. Really I find this book an important work; it brings forth an historical happening, a tragic piece of history the world ought to know better. Miss Atherstone is a master story teller. The goodness that flows through the horror wrought is a dynamic any age needs more of. The Jahnle's are a people I would love to know. Their faith is a special thing. It all might have been less in the hands of someone not as capable as Pamela Atherstone. She should find great success with this saga. Trust me when I say, you will gain knowledge and feel things deeply simply by opening the pages and falling into them

5 STARS!!! Reviewed by Alice Recker for Readers' FavoritePamela Atherstone's ". . . Like Footprints in the Wind" is a riveting story of a dark phase in history few of us recall. She has the unique ability to tell the tale of the dislocation of German-Russian families in a way that brings home the cruelty of leaders toward their own people. The family Atherstone depicts is like any loving and hard-working family. Their individual destinations end the similarities. Atherstone's talent for telling a story brings the reader to admire the unusual way this particular family learns to cope and the realization of how many others endured unspeakable hardships. My hope is Pamela Atherstone continues her stories to both enlighten and to entertain us all. I look forward to more books coming from this author. 

Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:

I don't even know where to begin with writing this review of ...Like Footprints in the Wind by Pamela Atherstone. It was absolutely AMAZING!  This novel has not had the coverage it deserves!  With the number of books I read (which is A LOT of books)... many of which are on the New York Times Best Seller List... all I can say is that this book rates right up there with some of the BEST I have read! 

Although this is a work of fiction, it reads like non-fiction.  It is so chocked full of historical information, but written so beautifully and with so much description and so much heart that you get pulled right into the story, feeling every heartbreak and moment of fear and anxiety and heartfelt warmth and love.  Wow!  I cannot say enough about this book!  I loved it!

We have all heard about the Nazi concentration camps and the tormented lives of the Jewish population in Germany, but very few of us have heard of the Purge of the Kulaks in Russia, where under Stalin's rule, hundreds of thousands of Russian-born farmers whose families had emigrated from Germany were removed from their property and taken to labor camps in Siberia.

This story follows the lives of the Jahlne family as they are forced to leave their farm to travel by horse and wagon with other German families only to later be transferred to cattle cars on a train.  Here, they are subjected to overcrowded conditions, starvation and brutal interrogations by the NKVD.  Upon reaching their destination of the town of Onega in western Siberia, the family is separated with Johannes taken with the other men to one labor camp and his wife, Katerina, and two oldest daughters, Magdalena and Karolina, being taken to another labor camp.  Their youngest children are left to fend for themselves, with only Anya being "adopted" by an elderly woman.

Pamela Atherstone writes with so much emotion and detail that I found myself not only reaching for a tissue, but actually sobbing!

This story isn't just about the devastation these German families endured.  It is also a story about the strength they had in their love of family and their faith in God.

Beautifully written by an author I plan to watch in the future.

My Rating:

About the Author:

Pamela Atherstone never set out to write a book. Selected as Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards Fiction Book of the Year 2013, and first place Historical Fiction, this award winning venture came as a result of being forced into disability retirement. Needing something to keep her busy during a life-changing transition, she soon found the Modesto Institute of Continued Learning (MICL) at Modesto Junior College, and the Writer’s Workshop offered in the curriculum. As the great-granddaughter of German-Russian immigrants, and an amateur genealogist focusing on Russians of German heritage, she soon found herself writing “…Like Footprints in the Wind.” This is a fictional tale about the real experiences of the people of German heritage living in Russia, just prior to WWII. Few people know about the “Purge of the Kulaks” by Stalin’s armies. She feels the importance of introducing non-German-Russians to this saga is through fiction. At a recent seminar Pam related that “Information from Russia on family members, who remained behind when my great-grandparents emigrated, seems to be non-existent. The stories I unearthed regarding the history of the Germans in Russia, following the Revolution of 1917, explained these gaping holes and the lack of recorded information about the people. Knowledge of those inhabitants, and what they experienced, is relatively unknown among the general populations today, and the more I learn, the more I wish to share the information with others.” To the uninitiated, this novel is an eye-opening and resonant account of a relatively little-known part of world history.

A mother and grandmother, Pam is a lifelong Californian, and has lived in Modesto for nearly 40 years with her husband, Jim, and her horses and dogs. She is currently working on a sequel.


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