Souvenirs from Kyiv: Unforgettable stories based on the heartbreaking experiences of Ukrainian families during WW2 by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Published April 22nd 2022 by Bookouture, (Originally published January 31st 2020)

Synopsis: ‘Russia has been trying to wipe Ukraine off the world map for thousands of years. They haven’t succeeded yet. Now, I’m picking up my stone and throwing it at Goliath. I want people to understand. I want to save this country.’ Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, March 2022

Larissa is a renowned embroiderer, surviving in occupied Ukraine during World War II as a seamstress in her ruin of a workshop. Surrounded by enemies, she expresses her defiance by threading history into her garments. But at what cost?

Mykhailo is a soldier on leave, returning to Ukraine from the front on Christmas Eve. As he travels through his country, he is confronted by the hardship the war has brought to his fellow countrymen. Will what he sees this Christmas change the course of his life forever?

Marusia and her family are woken early one morning by the arrival of the Nazis, who have come to search for her partisan brother. As the soldiers move through their house, her family has just moments to make choices that will determine their survival.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s stories bring to life the true history of her Ukrainian family who fought to survive World War II. Laced with hope, Souvenirs from Kyiv celebrates the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.

Souvenirs from Kyiv was awarded 2nd Place in the 2014 HNS International Short Story Award and the collection won the silver medal in the IPPY Book Awards 2020 for Military and Wartime fiction.

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is a first generation American born Ukrainian. Souvenirs From Kyiv was originally published in 2020, but with what is happening in the world right now, it was republished with a forward from the author. I definitely recommend you read the forward in this book, even if you read the previous publication. I posted a publication day post and included the forward which you can read here.

Souvenirs From Kyiv is a collection of six short stories, based on interviews she had with people and family who lived through WWII. Using fictional characters based on family, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger takes us into the homes and lives of people who lived through the horrors of war. The Ukraine was like the rope in a tug of war between Russia and Germany. Thinking Germany was going to save them from Russia, they welcomed the Germans with open arms, only to be met with harsher treatment. As the war progressed and Russia regained parts of the country, they retaliated against those they felt were traitors. The stories shared, broke my heart, especially knowing they were based on real people and true events. She includes notes at the end to help the reader understand the circumstances her relatives faced as well as a brief history of each relative. I wish I had read this first as it made the characters real. As I have seen and heard watching the news, I also read about the strength, perseverance, loss, fear, suffering, hope, love, and kindness of the Ukrainian people which makes it even harder to see what they have suffered and are suffering once again. If you enjoy reading historical novels I recommend this book.