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Sliding on the Snow Stone
Andy Szpuk
5 stars

It is astonishing that anyone lived this story. It is even more astonishing that anyone survived it.

Stefan grows up in the grip of a raging famine. Stalin’s Five Year Plan brings genocide to Ukraine – millions of people starve to death. To free themselves from the daily terrors of Soviet rule, Stefan and his friends fight imaginary battles in nearby woods to defend their land. The games they play are their only escape.

‘Sliding on the Snow Stone’ is the true story of Stefan’s extraordinary journey across a landscape of hunger, fear and devastating loss. With Europe on the brink of World War Two, Stefan and his family pray they’ll survive in their uncertain world. They long to be free.

(In 1932-33, as part of their drive towards industrialisation, the Soviet Union demanded impossibly high requisitions of grain from rural areas in Ukraine. In a deliberate act of genocide, Ukrainian smallholdings were stripped of food, and the population began to perish, with some estimates as high as 10 million deaths, from starvation. In Ukraine, this atrocity became known as the Holodomor (death by hunger). The following years saw Soviet purges and terrors resulting in the elimination of academics and intellectuals, or of anyone who spoke out against Soviet rule. When World War Two arrived on Ukraine’s doorstep, many people viewed the Nazis as liberators – a view that was quickly proved wrong. ‘Sliding on the Snow Stone’ is Stefan’s personal account of a historical period drenched in the blood of a nation, and of his yearning for freedom).

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