The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan

The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan

Whelan, Gloria. The Impossible Journey. Harper Collins, 204. ISBN 978-0064410830 256 pp. $

Whelan revisits the Russian Revolution in this tale of two children who undertake a journey across Russia to Siberia to be reunited with their parents who are arrested following a 1934 rebellion. Resourceful artistic Marya and her demanding young brother Georgi fend for themselves against corrupt adults including neighbors and acquaintances, but also find friends in unlikely places, including a tribe of indigenous peoples who herd reindeer. The underlying message of hope and freedom make the large roles of coincidence and serendipity forgivable. Simple language and careful telling make this appropriate for strong readers in lower grade levels.

The idea that a Russian doctor would be fired for reading an American medical journal is as frightening as the thought of children reporting their parents as disloyal comrades. This historical novel serves as an excellent discussion point for the advantages US citizens take for granted, and may be a reminder in these patriotic and suspicious times of ours that it is easy for governments to use fear to mold behavior. Pair with Whelan’s companion novel Angel on the Square for a more complete picture of life in communist Russia.

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