I Want To Live: The diary of a young girl in Stalin's Russia by Nina LugovskayaI Want To Live: The diary of a young girl in Stalin's Russia by Nina Lugovskaya

I Want To Live: The diary of a young girl in Stalin's Russia

byNina Lugovskaya

Hardcover | June 18, 2007

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Recently unearthed in the archives of Stalin's secret police, the NKVD, Nina Lugovskaya's diary offers rare insight into the life of a teenage girl in Stalin's Russia-when fear of arrest was a fact of daily life. Like Anne Frank, thirteen-year-old Nina is conscious of the extraordinary dangers around her and her family, yet she is preoccupied by ordinary teenage concerns: boys, parties, her appearance, who she wants to be when she grows up. As Nina records her most personal emotions and observations, her reflections shape a diary that is as much a portrait of her intense inner world as it is the Soviet outer one.Preserved here, these markings-the evidence used to convict Nina as a 'counterrevolutionary'-offer today's reader a fascinating perspective on the era in which she lived.
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Title:I Want To Live: The diary of a young girl in Stalin's RussiaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.93 inPublished:June 18, 2007Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0618605754

ISBN - 13:9780618605750

Appropriate for ages: 12


Rated 2 out of 5 by from NOT the next Anne Frank ... Dubbed as the Russian Anne Frank on the cover of I Want to Live: The Diary of a Young Girl In Stalin’s Russia, Nina Lugovskaya tells her tale of growing up in turbulent times in Russia, in diary format. When I saw this book in the library, I knew it would be an interesting read. I had read The Diary of Anne Frank a few times in the past and have always come back to it because I admired Frank’s courage and hope. I only assumed that this book from a Russian perspective would be the same. While Nina Lugovskaya resembles Anne Frank in some ways, it’s hard to put the two girls in the same category. Anne Frank’s memoir tells, page after page, of the struggles of living as a Jew during the times of the Holocaust. She shows remarkable courage, leaving readers with a feeling of hope. Her writing is thoughtful and portrays the hopes and dreams of a 13-year-old, but is intermingled with the fear of living at such a time. She shows strength for both her and her family and the reader can’t help but continue to read, even though the known end is fatal. Nina Lugovskaya, however, comes across as angry and shallow. It is only through the interjections and commentaries of publisher that the reader really learns about what was going on during Stalin’s Russia. Nina’s entries begin as the normal diary entries of a 13-year-old girl: talking about school and boys, especially a certain crush. While the reader would expect Nina to grow up and start showing a more grown-up quality, Nina moves on to write about suicide (a continuous topic throughout the book, though more due to the result of boys not liking her or to her “deformity,” than to her hatred or frustration of living in this society), her hatred of Stalin, and her hatred of her parents. It was hard to really feel compassion for Nina as her writings–while obviously very well-written–come across as constant complaining. While the interjections and commentaries do provide an educational aspect to the otherwise love-stricken writer’s memoirs, at times they can be distracting and I found myself wondering why the person who provided insight to Nina’s diary felt so assured at times to say that Nina was “obviously being sarcastic” or to put thoughts or feelings to Nina’s words, when there might not have been anything of substance at all. If you’re looking for a historical memoir for a young person, stick to The Diary of Anne Frank. It’s timeless and a classic, sure to teach the readers something of courage, compassion, and hope.
Date published: 2012-04-09

Read from the Book

Yesterday at school, our first lesson was double social studies, and the teacher, Evtsikhevich, arrived even more dressed up than usual, and that set us off laughing and making all sorts of jokes about him. He gave some of the boys reports to write, including Staska, and I promised to write his report for him, which I really regret doing now.In the fourth lesson, before the German teacher arrived in the classroom, Lyovka was standing by the glass tank of newts and prodding them in the back with his pen. One of them grabbed hold of the tip of his pen, and Lyovka thought that was hilarious. He burst out laughing and made a dash for his seat, almost skipping along.“Ugh, what horrible faces they have, ugly as sin!”“Just like yours,” Irina quipped, and Lyovka answered back, slightly embarrassed: “No, like yours.”Something’s changing, imperceptibly but irresistibly, in the way I feel about the boys, and we are becoming friends (something I’ve dreamed of for ages). I don’t feel anything special for Lyovka now; I kind of like him, that’s all.After school I went to Ira’s place and stayed there till late. When I got home, Zhenya and Lyalya weren’t back yet.Now it’s half past ten. Zhenya is sitting playing the piano and I’m trying to note down as fast as I can the way music makes me feel. You wouldn’t believe how much I love it, but it can be weirdly painful and bitter. It’s impossible to explain the powerful and complicated emotions it gives me; something fragile and delicate begins to stir somewhere deep inside me, setting me on edge in a good and a bad way, something that wants to be let out.At moments like this I’d love to be able to join in and sing with my sisters, to let out all my feelings and make beautiful music, but all that comes out is a thin, tremulous wheezing, and I go quiet, letting the confusing tide of feelings ebb away. All the different melodies—playful and mischievous or full of deep, distressing emotions—send me into a dreamworld.Love! How can you not think about it when everyone goes on and on about how great it is! How can you not dream about it? Take these words:It was on the outskirts of Granada, Where the Spaniards are known to dwell, And endless serenades fill the air.There the beauties all smoke cigars, And eternal summer reigns, There guitars thrum and jangle And castanets clatter night and day.One night in a remote alley, Don Rodrigo Jerez del Malaga Was out walking at his set hour, Leaning upon his long sword.The sword glinted bright ’neath the moon, The streets were flooded with light, When Don Malaga suddenly beheld The bright image of Senora Lolita [anonymous; probably a poem set to music]I really like them, and the tune is really simple and playful. It makes me feel as if I’m gazing curiously out into the distance, into a wide expanse filled with the obscure phantoms of some different, romantic life.Almost nothing interesting happened at school today. The first lessons were dull, and in physics we carried on with questions and answers, and I was bored, so I drew a picture of Lyovka in Zina’s rough book. He was getting on my nerves, spinning around all the time, but I couldn’t tell him to stop because I didn’t want him to know I was drawing him.Ira once said to me: “It would be a good idea to write all this down, Nina, and read it back at the end of the year.” “There’s no point,” I said in an innocent voice, secretly laughing to myself.

Editorial Reviews

A remarkable document, showing an intelligent teen's rage against oppressive politics, as well as universal coming-of-age concerns - including anxieties about looks, academic pressures, and hopeful yearnings coupled with suicidal lows. . . . This will provide crucial support for high-school, and even college-level, studies of Russian history. Using boldfaced type, the editors have preserved those passages marked as counterrevolutionary by the Soviet investigators who confiscated the diary; helpful appended material includes editor's notes, a thoughtful bibliography, and several photos and family letters.Booklist, ALA