A Mountain of Crumbs
By Elena Gorokhova
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781439125687, 336pp.)
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Elena Gorokhova’s A Mountain of Crumbs is the moving story of a Soviet girl who discovers the truths adults are hiding from her and the lies her homeland lives by. Elena’s country is no longer the majestic Russia of literature or the tsars, but a nation struggling to retain its power and its pride. Born with a desire to explore the world beyond her borders, Elena finds her passion in the complexity of the English language—but in the Soviet Union of the 1960s such a passion verges on the subversive. Elena is controlled by the state the same way she is controlled by her mother, a mirror image of her motherland: overbearing, protective, difficult to leave. In the battle between a strong-willed daughter and her authoritarian mother, the daughter, in the end, must break free and leave in order to survive.
Through Elena’s captivating voice, we learn not only the stories of Russian family life in the second half of the twentieth century, but also the story of one rebellious citizen whose curiosity and determination finally transport her to a new world. It is an elegy to the lost country of childhood, where those who leave can never return.
Elena Gorokhova grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, although for most of her life it was known to her as Leningrad. At the age of twenty-four she married an American and came to the United States with only a twenty kilogram suitcase to start a new life. She currently lives in New Jersey.
A January 2010 Indie Next Pick
One of O Magazine’s 10 to Watch For, February 2010
One of the Christian Science Monitor’s 10 Best Mother’s Day Books, 2010
“[A] witty, illuminating book . . . with telling detail, and a winning balance of affection, insight and satiric bite.”
—Misha Berson, The Seattle Times
“Elena Gorokhova reveals with beautiful writing the panic of growing up inside the secrecy of Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. . . . Even if Elena Gorokhova weren’t such a gorgeous writer, her memoir, “A Mountain of Crumbs,” would be a terrific read. . . . She writes with irony and subtlety about the “bright future” of the Soviet Union, even as she plans her exodus. What makes this book so remarkable, though, is Gorokhova’s evocative and sensuous writing.”
—Laurie Hertzel, The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
“A moving memoir about one woman’s journey from the Soviet Union . . . Captivating.”
—The Daily Beast
“Artful memoir about the angst and joys of growing up behind the Iron Curtain. . . . Articulate, touching and hopeful.”
“Extraordinarily rich in sensory and emotional detail . . . An engrossing portrait of a very lively, intelligent girl coming of emotional and intellectual age in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union.”
“Wry . . . both comic and anguished . . . but never cold or simple.”
“Three pages into this beautifully crafted memoir and you know that Gorokhova has always been a writer. . . . the kind that envelops and transports you and every so often leaves you breathless. . . . Recounted in shimmering detail.”
—Bill Ervolino, The Bergen Record (New Jersey)
“Gorokhova has the reader in the palms of her hands. . . . Stellar . . . This compelling and unusual tale . . . is inherently captivating.”
—Christine Thomas, The Miami Herald
“Exquisitely lyrical . . . Every page of Elena Gorokhova s coming-of-age-in-the-Soviet-bloc memoir unveils the magic of her origins. . . . Stunning.”
—Anne Grant, Providence Journal-Bulletin (RI)