A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

n144996.jpg Penguin Books Ltd., 324 pages

Who wouldn’t be drawn by the first paragraph of this book?

“Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukranian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.”

Middle aged sisters Nadezhda and Vera suddenly find themselves teaming up (after years of indifference) to get the gold-digging Valentina away from their lonely father.

Although the novel’s plot seems comical, the whole essence of it runs deep. It digs into the heart of being a Ukranian war and refugee camp survivor, and adapting into a new ‘big brother’ country.

After finishing the book, I realize that the controversial foreign-bride-zilla plot is just a superficial mask to a more interesting issue–communism, poverty, and family.

The pacing dragged on a little too much in the middle, but eventually picked up towards the end. Though Nadezhda’s (narrator) lines are funny and witty, I’m not too keen to say this book is one to remember and highly recommend.

marina_narrowweb__300x4360.jpg
the author was born of Ukranian parents in a refugee camp
in Germany at the end of WWII, and grew up in England.
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