- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins - US (18 September 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006264274X
- ISBN-13: 978-0062642745
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.1 x 21 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 458 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Among The Red Stars Hardcover – 18 Sep 2017
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"For fans of Kathryn Lasky's Night Witches. Strong."--School Library Journal
"an intimate portrayal of the personal toll of WWII."--Publishers Weekly
"This beautiful, emotional entry into a key moment in Russian history will appeal to lovers of adventure novels, as well as historical fiction fans."--Booklist Online
"The writing style is unique and engaging...well written and an interesting presentation of history"--Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
About the Author
Gwen C. Katz is a writer, artist, game designer, and retired mad scientist easily identified by her crew cut and ability to cause trouble. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and a revolving door of transient mammals. Visit her at www.gwenckatz.com.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The story opens with the true story of the disappearance of the Rodina, a Russian plane aspiring to set a distance record and completely run by women, but from the point of view of Valka, our hero, as she listens to the coverage on the radio. From the start, we know that Valka admires Marina Raskova, who we meet in person later in the book. However, chapter one doesn’t give us much description of the main characters that we’ll be watching for the rest of the novel, just that they are very close and that they want to listen to the coverage of the Rodina.
This lack of descriptive detail is somewhat made up for in the next couple chapters, which are set three years later. It’s obvious that Valka idolizes Raskova, and her passion for flying as well as her adoration for her flight club’s horrible plane is obvious. I would’ve liked to know a bit more about her flight club, especially the other pilots involved and how she joined. Many of the historical details that I’d be interested to know about aren’t described throughout the novel, but with it already being at 381 pages, it probably wouldn’t be reasonable to ask for much more.
My favorite aspect of the book is that it’s structured in two segments – the narrative, and the letters between Pasha and Valka. The narrative shows us more of the mundanities of being a woman in the Russian military during World War II, and we get snapshots of the more intimate parts of Valka’s life, whereas the letters are things that Valka sees as most important when speaking to the boy she loves. Most of the battle scenes are described by Valka in her letters to Pasha, and we’re able to get a sense of the amount of time passing by the dates. In a lot of war-themed fiction, the male characters are strong leaders who fear nothing, but Pasha’s letters illustrate that war is not something to strive for, as he is not the type of boy who wanted to be a soldier – he’s a kind, gentle boy who was forced into service by the draft. We also get the perspective, mainly from her letters, that Valka cares deeply for her country, but she fears the fact that people can get arrested for saying anything against their nation, which is shown to be a common occurrence throughout the way characters speak warily about Russia throughout the novel.
Although the story revolves around the many female friendships, Among the Red Stars doesn’t fall into any of the tropes usually associated with groups of girls being together. Instead, it follows the more usual structure from military stories, that of comrades in arms who care deeply about each other through everything. It’s a refreshing take on the friendships of girls – rather than having petty arguments and catty disagreements, we see a more realistic take on women who depend on each other for not only their survival, but their sanity if they are to make it through the war.
The romance in the story is quiet and understated, which I quite enjoyed – oftentimes, the romantic arc in a YA novel will outweigh the plot, but Katz made it clear that, while Pasha and Valka’s feelings for each other were important, they were not all-encompassing in a way that would distract the readers from the story.
Overall, as a person who doesn’t usually read historical fiction, I enjoyed Katz’s premier novel, and I look forward to reading whatever she puts out in the future. Katz is great at writing what it truly is to be a girl, and the type of enduring friendships that can follow a girl throughout life.
This story of a group of young women risking everything to fight against the Nazi regime is exactly what our world needs right now. This book is a very timely reminder of all the sacrifices men and women across the globe made to try to put an end to genocide and hate.
I absolutely fell in love with the characters in this story. Valka is such a smart and fierce young woman, and it was so inspiring to watch her fight to achieve her dreams and to protect the country she loves. Most of the other airwomen in this story are straight out of the history books. Gwen C. Katz did such a phenomenal job incorporating their stories into this book. I was utterly captivated by each of them and would highly recommend hopping online as you're reading this book and learning more about these astounding women as you go.
AMONG THE RED STARS also incorporates some important messages about friendship and the importance of women loving and supporting other women, and it includes all these vital messages and themes within a plot that is action-packed, fast-paced, and wholly entertaining.
This book is historical fiction at its finest. It not only is a wonderful story in and of itself, but it introduces you to some incredible women from history and inspires you to learn more about them. One of the things I love about historical fiction is that it opens the door for learning and personal growth if readers take the time to dig deeper. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to do so, because my reading experience with this book is one that I will never forget.
This book is perfect for fans of CODE NAME VERITY and will certainly be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*