Amy O. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Good story line but....
I appreciate the story that the author was presenting and the language. The difficulties of living in a "Post" communist Russia and the depictions of the characters based on other fiction and non-fiction I have read ring true. At first I found the switching between characters disconcerting and it took me to page 76 with Azade to get hooked. The people living in the apartments are a motley bunch and I empathize with their lot in life. I liked the book but would recommend it only to folks that can grasp the presentation of the message of escapism from life's difficulties. In terms of style and magical realism it reminded of "The Convalescent" by Jessica Anthony which I liked very much.
Cheri W. (Grand Rapids, MN)
One of those Books that Leaves a Mark
I loved this book! And why, because it was simple, well-written with extraordinary language, and just one of those books you hate to finish. The main characters are strong, real women who face day to day in regular ways. There is no super powers or descriptions of snide out of this word antics, just regular women trying their best to survive the lemons life gives. I loved that.
I loved that Tanya, a heavy-set girl, kept her head in the clouds even when the earth threatened to bring her back down. Olga, an older mom, kept her wits about her as her life continues to spiral out of her control. Which is the way it is. How many of us have full control?
So many books written show the women as either a control-freak or shy and afraid. This book shows women and men as they are in a situation they did not choose (the downturn of the Russian economy) and how they, like us, live everyday by getting up doing our thing and going home. Very Good Book, Highly recommend it! One of those books you continue to revisit long after the book covers are closed.
Laura H. (Los Angeles, CA)
The Russian Dreambook
A beautifully drawn tale of Soviet Russia centered around a small group of people trying to live in a crumbling condemned housing project. Each chapter follows one of the residents, examining the defenses and denials necessary to live and survive in a society where the official version of truth cannot be questioned. When lies public and private become a way of life, the only escapes are in fantasy, tradition and whatever hope can be gathered that change can still happen.
Ochsner skillfully recreates life in this oppressive time, but because her characters are fascinating and the stories liberally infused with black humor, it's a fun and compelling read.
Debi B. (Charleston, SC)
The Russian Dreambook
This was a hard book for me to get into, but once I got to know the characters, it captured my interest enough to want to read a little more to find out what was going to happen next. If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be bleak. Often I found myself in places I didn't want to be, but interested enough to keep reading.
Nancy L. (Denver, NC)
Russia - Depressing
What a miserable life this book's characters live. I found the only redeeming things about this book were excellent wording and the idea that we are more than rich compared to these poor people. I can't imagine living like they live - working for no pay; living in atrocious conditions; not even toilet paper! And a lot of the book was about what toilet paper is needed for...
I didn't see any point in the descriptions of filthy living - beatings, bodily functions, etc. In fact, I felt as if the author were on drugs while writing the book.
Vicky S. (Torrance, CA)
At Times Bizarre, Thought Provoking and Tedious
Reading this book is like listening to someone else's dreams - at times very strange with what the characters choose to do, to how they interact with each other or interesting when characters are faced with difficult circumstances without good options. But is also like listening to another's dreams since at times I didn't care - it was a bit tedious particularly with the focus on negative odors from toilets, latrines or a hole in the ground. These odors are at work, home and waft off of the characters - yuck!
I enjoyed that the story took place in Russia since I am not familiar with this country. I also appreciated that the author alternated between the characters perspectives for the different chapters.
Beth C. (Sioux Falls, SD)
Magical Realism in Post-Soviet Russia
The characters in this unusual book by Gina Ochsner (Tanya, Olga, Yuri, Zoya, Azade, Mircha, and Vitek) all live in a aging and derelict apartment building that doesn't have functioning indoor toilets. They all must share a latrine that is located in the courtyard. Azade collects payment for the use of this facility and it is in the courtyard that most of their interactions occur. Mircha fell off the roof one day and his ghost also hangs out in this area as well as in the building because they haven't been able to give his body a suitable burial. Tanya, Yuri and Zoya work at a pseudo-museum where they make and display replicas of replicas and give tours of the displays.
When there is a chance for a grant from some rich Americans of Russian heritage, it throws the whole group into a tizzy.
For those who enjoy magical realism in fiction, this would likely be an enjoyable book.