As a teacher once told me years ago in high school, “we are making history every day”. No one ever really understands when they are in the middle of history when most people think of history happening, as for most of us, we are just living. For people in the middle of history, they are surviving, the amount of bravery that it takes to stand up in an insurrection, cannot be understated, as the many revolutions around the world, have shown it is equal parts faith and fortitude. It reminds me of my family and their reactions to when Ninoy Aquino got shot in the Philippines back in 1983.
Our family had left the Philippines two years prior, but still had extended family and friends there, as the country’s disposition towards the government became untenable, and eventually lead to the ousting of President Marcos. My generation, only knew of what our parents and their brothers and sisters told us, of how it was then and why they felt they had to leave, some of their answers more cryptic than others. Their disdain never quite followed us even though many of us has some of that anti-establishment fervor in our blood, but those ghosts not only haunted them, it haunted us as well. This is what Soviet Daughter reminded me of when I read Julia Alekseyeva’s graphic novel of three generations of her family from when the family was entrenched in the USSR to them finally arriving in Chicago.
In the first few pages, we are introduced to the author, who we find out was a very close to her great grandmother, who had died when was 100 years old, and left her with a memoir, which was not to be read until after she died. What Julia, has found was not only an autobiography of her great grandmother but the story of Russia. We are introduced to family members throughout, showing how difficult life was in Russia, before and after both World Wars. By the end of the book, the author is both devastated and lost when she learned what she did about her great grandmother, a woman though lose to her , she barely knew.
The heartbreaking story of anti-Semitism, World Wars, Stalinism, xenophobia, Communism, and resilience amongst these three generations of women will have you rooting for all of them. The story by Alekseyeva is heart wrenching, with moments of levity, but leave the reader besides themselves. The art by Alekseyeva is appropriate and feels more like a scrapbook for this family than sequential art. Overall, this is a story that will make you wish you knew more about those in your family who have ascended the earth.
Story: Julia Alekseyeva Art: Julia Alekseyeva
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy