Saturday, May 23, 2015
by Eugene Yelchin
Henry Holt, 2014. 234 pgs. Fiction
Arcady is an orphaned ward of the state, because his parents were considered enemies of the Soviet state. He manages not only to endure but to prosper to a degree because of his soccer skills. He plays against the other orphans for food and respect and gets along as best he can until the unimaginable happens - he is adopted by a school teacher who wants to become his father in honor of his dead wife, who passed away before she could deliver a child. Arcady and Ivan Ivanych are often at cross purposes, Ivan trying to show love to his new son, and Arcady wishing to maintain his independence and to achieve his dream: to play for the Red Army soccer team. He is scorned at school because of his parents, and denied a tryout with the Red Army team because of his parents; but there may yet be a way, thanks to one boy who decides to be his friend. Eugene Yelchin, author of the Newbery honor book Breaking Stalin's Nose, has based this equally heartening book on his father's true story. A terrific read for young and old.