February 6, 2012 | goulds
Breaking Stalin's nose by Eugene Yelchin — a gripping story about a seldom covered historical era — Russia, or the then Soviet Union, under Stalin's rule. Ten-year-old Sasha begins a 24 hour period in a state of utter elation, the day has finally arrived for him to join the Young Pioneers. At last he will be able to serve the Communist Party and Comrade Stalin, just as his father does who works for the secret police in State Security. But poor, niave Sasha soon finds his whole world spiraling into an abyssmal black hole. His father is arrested in the middle of the night leaving him homeless. He accidentally breaks the nose off of a bust of Stalin at school and knows he could be arrested, too, if anyone reports him and he will never be able to join the Young Pioneers. His classmates, just like the apartment comrades who reported his father, would be happy to squeal on him so they could be rewarded. Sasha begins to see the 'ideal' world of communism in a darker light as questions about motives and feelings overtake him. A suspenseful, emotional, page-turner, Breaking Stalin's Nose is historical fiction at its most awesome. An author's note at the end presents a chilling account of how Sasha's story relates to his own real experiences. Yelchin justly earned winning a Newbery honor for his work.