Title: Shadows on the Tundra
Author: Dalia Grinkeviciute
Page Count/Review Word Count: 208
This book almost didn’t exist, but I’m glad that it does. Grinkeviciute was 14-years-old when the Soviets deported her from her native Lithuania during the 1940s, and she found herself essentially in a work camp in Siberia with people dropping dead left and right around her. She escaped, was caught, and managed to escape again, eventually writing these memoirs and burying them in the back garden in case the Soviet state discovered them. They were eventually found several years after her death.
As you can imagine, that means that it’s a pretty dark read with its fair share of harrowing scenes, and for me it was a lot of the little details that really hit me hard. For example, because they were struggling to survive on the tundra, the ground was frozen solid with permafrost even in the middle of summer, which made it difficult for them to dig graves. One woman was found frozen solid five months after disappearing and when they rolled her over, fresh blood leaked out of her nose. The fact that she survived is nothing short of incredible.