Barbara (Brooklyn NY)
This page turner quickly drew me into the book with its vivid imagery of rural Denmark which serves as a backdrop for the lives and struggles of powerfully portrayed characters, who could really be living anywhere. It also explores how the lives of ordinary people change over time , before, during and after war.
The various themes should bring out lively discussion for any book club. It should be required reading for high school students as it could make them think about how their dreams and choices, despite circumstances, can effect their futures.
To Siberia haunted me, leaving me with much to think about long after the final word was read.
Brenda (Lincoln CA)
In "To Siberia," Petterson creates a mood of a pervasive cold and barren landscape and tightly held emotions. The narrator is a young girl from the pre-teen years through early adulthood during and immediately after World War II in Denmark. You never learn her name, which creates a distance between the reader and the story, additionally contributing to the mood. The narrator's emotions are so in check and tightly held that you just know if she ever let go, everything around her would melt.
I didn't enjoy "To Siberia" as much as the previously published "Out Stealing Horses." "Siberia" has the same spare and elegant language, but I felt too detached from the characters.
Linda (Florida Molino)
Not my favorite WW Two saga
If you want to read a book about a dysfunctional family during WW 2, this is the book for you. I selected this book because I hoped the novel would link to the history and politics that time, but it was lacking. I do not plan to include To Siberia in my collection of WW 2 books for middle/high school reading.
Joan,Walnut Creek CA (Palm Desert CA)
To Siberia - Disappointing Reading Experience
What a disappointment To Siberia was! Being a fond reader of historical fiction I had looked forward to this book with great anticipation. The opportunity to develop a meaningful story based on the teen viewpoint of the Danish resistance movement during the Nazi occupation of WWII as alluded to on the book jacket, slipped through the fingers of the author.
The reader was left with two unsympathetic teen characters living in a very were dysfunctional family struggling through a meandering dark story of the war years.
DeeAnn (Colorado Springs CO)
Difficult to finish, but glad I did
Although I didn't really enjoy this book, I did love the powerful images and the moving story. However, I did find it hard to follow the author's flow of the story, there were connections that were difficult to make as he jumped around in time. This is probably the reason he is so popular, however, the style did not appeal to me. I have read some about WWII and the German occupation, but this was the first time I have read anything set in Denmark, which was very interesting to have a perspective from there. I would recommend this book, however, being selective in the reader to whom I would recommend.
SUE ELLEN (Cedar Falls IA)
To Siberia: Sweet Yet Harsh
The German occupation of Denmark and a dysfunctional family replete with mystery provide the backdrop for To Siberia. Within this harsh setting, Petterson crafts the story of a brother and sister's sweet relationship built on understanding and loyalty. As each yearns to escape the suffocating confines of home and homeland, I found myself alternately fearing for and celebrating with them. This will generate much good discussion for book clubs.
Michele (Port Orchard WA)
A Challenging Read
As an avid historical fiction reader and reviewer, I am drawn to novels written in unique settings and time periods. Predictably, I couldn't wait to read To Siberia, by award-winning author Per Petterson, a novel about two siblings growing up in WWII Denmark and experiencing the Nazi invasion.
The novel is almost poetically written and events unfold as remembered by a 60 year-old woman. She recalls her bleak childhood growing up in a small town in northern Denmark and her special closeness to her brother, Jesper. The invasion of the Nazi's and the long-lasting ramifications of this event even after the war round out this sparse novel.
The story unfolds in snapshots; a snippet here and a snippet there. Time and place often change in the span of a single sentence. This isn't a novel you can whip through easily. It requires a quiet place, free from distractions, to follow and digest the story.
If you are looking for a quick, easy read then this probably isn't the book for you. There are no long, flowery passages and the book is free of sentiment. But if you are willing to put in the effort and pay attention to the author's words, you will be rewarded with images and observations that will stay with you a lifetime.