A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic, $18.50)
Review by Nikki Slade Robinson
Adam is 12 and living with his family in rural 1939 Poland… but not for long. Their home isn’t far from the Soviet border. When the Soviet Red Army invades Poland, Adam’s family is one of many uprooted and transported to Russian labour camps.
It is a harsh existence: appalling living conditions, freezing temperatures, illnesses, a severe shortage of food, and the ever-present enemy. It’s a challenge to survive each day, let alone try to stay together as a family.
This young-adult story, while fictional, is closely based on Melinda Szymanik’s father’s recollections of his family’s experiences in 1939 Poland and the USSR: ‘My father was 12 when the Soviet Red Army invaded eastern Poland, where he lived, in 1939. His family was transported from Poland to a labour camp in Russia in 1940. Their experiences… form the basis of this novel, and a lot of the things that happen to Adam and those close to him happened to my father and his family and friends.’
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