The Memory Keeper of Kyiv – Erin Litteken

Published By: Boldwood
Pages: 373
Released On: 16/05/2022

In the 1930s, Stalin’s activists marched through the Soviet Union, espousing the greatness of collective farming. It was the first step in creating a man-made famine that, in Ukraine, stole almost 4 million lives. Inspired by the history the world forgot, and the Russian government denies, Erin Litteken reimagines their story.

In 1929, Katya is 16 years old, surrounded by family and in love with the boy next door. When Stalin’s activists arrive in her village, it’s just a few, a little pressure to join the collective. But soon neighbors disappear, those who speak out are never seen again and every new day is uncertain.

Resistance has a price, and as desperate hunger grips the countryside, survival seems more a dream than a possibility. But, even in the darkest times, love beckons.

Seventy years later, a young widow discovers her grandmother’s journal, one that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her family’s haunted past.

This is a story of the resilience of the human spirit, the love that sees us through our darkest hours and the true horror of what happened during the Holodomor.


Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

A more timely novel than this exists nowhere. It is truly heartbreaking to think that the Ukrainian people have been through so much that this book could resonate through time and generations.

I’m ashamed to admit I had never heard of the Holodomor before this book. It’s such an important piece of history that we were never taught. I can’t believe it’s been covered up for so many years; these people deserve to have their stories listened to.

It goes without saying to mention there are some difficult themes in this book, death, baby loss, grief, famine, starvation, torture, suicide, murder, but it’s handled with such great care and sensitivity and isn’t overtly graphic. You can see how much this story means to the author.

Regardless of its difficult themes, or perhaps because of, it is so full of love and family and friendship and a sense of belonging to a place and a people.

Every now and again you come across a book that transcends the frivolity that is fiction reading, and for me, this is that book.

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