Book Review: The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken

Sometimes the news is too much too bear, and that’s ok. Learn through fiction instead.


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.


Let’s look at this book in two different ways. First as the story of Katja and her family, which is absolutely heartbreaking. You really wonder how she survives all she did. The Memory Keeper of Kyiv truly shows the resilience of people and what we can endure when we need to, especially when love is involved. Katja’s story is one that drags you in and doesn’t let you go until a conclusion is met. This book is told through two different timelines and the love and heartbreak you feel for Katja, you will feel for her granddaughter too.

In addition, this is a story of the history of the Ukraine. Through the author’s words, the reader understands what the Ukraine has already gone through at the hands of Russia and the Soviet Union and why, like in the 1930s, they won’t give up without a fight today.

You can pick up The Memory Keeper of Kyiv here.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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