I love immigrant stories. I learn so much about different customs and cultures when I read of people emigrating to the United States and their adjustments to our culture. Stalina a novel by Emily Rubin is just such a book.
This book tells the story of Stalina Folskaya, a Russian Jewish woman who leaves Leningrad (formerly St. Petersburg) in 1991 to move to Connecticut to live with a high school friend. Stalina is 58 when she moves and leaves her mother in an old age home with dementia.
The story varies from her childhood and parents’ story in Russia to her new life in America. Stalina goes to work for a motel, first as a housekeeper and later in management. The motel caters to couples who need it by the hour. Stalina creates “Rooms for the Imaginative”, themed rooms with roller coasters or cabanas to help the couples create fantasies. These rooms make the motel the top in its block of hourly establishments.
This book reads more like fine literature than simply a fiction novel. Stalina’s mother dies in Russia with a unique vindictive request for where her ashes are to go. I really liked the mother character- despite living in Stalinist Russia, her mother had a strong personality with a zest for life.
“The first sign of spring at winter’s end when the flowers force themselves through the softening earth- zilliony (green in Russian). In America the color green is about money,greed and envy.”
Despite a hard life, Stalina maintains a sense of humor and good attitude. I love that she brings Russian bras to sell in the United States and touts Russian lingerie as far superior to that here.
Goldberg McDuffie Communications provided a review copy of this book for this post. All opinions are my own.
What are you reading and where are you going?