Claire (New York NY)
Having taught in Siberia for six months I came to know its harsh cold intimately. Petterson's ability to evoke time and place brought me back to the realities of living in a place defined by its starkness and reactions to being occupied. This is wonderful storytelling and I will carry Sistermine with me. I found it also a gem in that Sistermine and her observations about her mother and other women were written by a man, who himself has observed keenly.
Rosario (South El Monte CA)
Stark and poetic, beautifully written. I was swept away by this story. I highly recommend this book, although it drags a bit at the beginning, stick with it - you will be glad you did. Great for book clubs, it will generate lovely discussions!
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.
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.
Ann (Roswell GA)
The frigid landscape of northern Denmark figures prominently in this sparse and poetic book. And, although unfulfilled, the dream of the unnamed young girl who is the narrator and main character of the book is to go to Siberia - with it's clean, cold landscape. The suicide of a grandfather, a homeland occupied by the Nazis, distant and aloof parents, the death of a beloved brother and an unplanned pregnancy...not the stuff of an easy and quick read, but events that will shape a young girl into a self-reliant and strong woman and also things that will keep the reader tuning the pages to see "what happens next."
Jennifer (Hugo MN)
Perfect for Book Clubs
This book would be perfect for a book club, due to its subtle nature. I would love to discuss it with others, find out which things they considered pivotal, what they believe the story is about. Not having this resource available, I still believe this short novel was worth reading. The translation, or the writer, used many run-on sentences that I had to read more than once to figure out - annoying at first, but led me to interact with the text more than I usually do. The understated intensity of the war experience for this Danish brother and sister led me to think a lot about the book when I wasn't reading it - wondering how things would turn out. To me, that is the sign of a pretty good book!
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.