Sunday, July 17, 2016

Like A River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart

Like a River from its CourseKelli Stuart's WWII novel LIKE A RIVER FROM ITS COURSE, set in the Ukraine as Germany invades and then occupies the Soviet country is drawn from hundreds of true stories of hardship, brutality, and suffering heard from survivors as she visited the Ukraine. Fifteen years of research and study went into this book.  Over seventy years after the war, the stories, while painful to retell or hear, also tell of resilience, courage and kindness which can never be forgotten.  I believe Stuart has done a remarkable job of blending the essence of those remembrances she was privy to into a powerful novel.

A river's course can be calm and peaceful, even sluggish, almost stagnant, but then a powerful, unexpected storm can transform the water into a dangerous flood of obstacles, dangers, and rapids.  The  1941 Nazi invasion of the Ukraine changes the lives of Maria Ivanovna, her family, and others, just as a river course changes.  Life under Soviet rule has never been easy, but the Nazis bring instant new hardships -- no food, fuel or work.  Even worse is the uncertainty, the cruelty, and the all out intent to kill every Jew.  Soon Maria finds herself the one of the Ukranian non-Jewish youth sent to Germany to be laborers, virtual slaves, sent there to work to keep the German war machine functioning.  When Germany is finally defeated, and the war winds down, and surviving laborers attempt to find their way back to the Ukraine, the Soviet Red army vows to treat them as traitors.
As I read this novel, the utter inhumanity of both the Nazis and later the Red army was unbelievable.  How could anyone hate so easily and commit such atrocities?  How could anyone have the strength to endure and survive?  As the stories unfold, clearly one sees that for all the evil, there is an awful lot of good, and it is those tiny acts of goodness, courage, and compassion that lead to survival, redemption, and forgiveness.  Maria's story, along with her father's, her brother's, as well as their Jewish neighbors, and another young teenager Luda Michaelevna will add another layer to your understanding of WWII.  Equally powerful is the side story of a young German officer who sees his role in the submission of the Ukranians as his one chance to win his father's (a high ranking Nazi) favor.  His eventual disillusionment and failure is a story of suffering just as clearly as Luda's and Maria's stories.

I received a copy of LIKE A RIVER FROM ITS COURSE from Litfuse and the publishers for my honest opinion.  I highly recommend this book and place it as one of  the best I've read this year.

Read on to learn more about the author and book.


Like a River from Its Course(Kregel, June 2016)
An epic novel exposing the ugliness of war and the beauty of hope
The city of Kiev was bombed in Hitler’s blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union, but the constant siege was only the beginning for her citizens. In this sweeping historical saga, Kelli Stuart takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little—known history of Ukraine’s tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives.
Maria Ivanovna is only fourteen when the bombing begins and not much older when she is forced into work at a German labor camp. She must fight to survive and to make her way back to her beloved Ukraine.
Ivan Kyrilovich is falsely mistaken for a Jew and lined up with 34,000 other men, women, and children who are to be shot at the edge of Babi Yar, the “killing ditch.” He survives, but not without devastating consequences.
Luda is sixteen when German soldiers rape her. Now pregnant with the child of the enemy, she is abandoned by her father, alone, and in pain. She must learn to trust family and friends again and find her own strength in order to discover the redemption that awaits.
Frederick Hermann is sure in his knowledge that the F├╝hrer’s plans for domination are right and just. He is driven to succeed by a desire to please a demanding father and by his own blind faith in the ideals of Nazism. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors,Like a River from Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.
Kelli Stuart


Kelli Stuart is the coauthor of Dare 2B Wise and has written for several brands including Disney, American Girl, and Short Fiction Break. She has served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. In addition to her writing, Kelli has spent twenty years studying Ukranian culture. Kelli lives in Florida.
Find out more about Kelli at

1 comment:

  1. Stuart's book is indeed excellent! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.