My rating: 4 of 5 stars
But ultimately, it is a simply the story of a single human life, within which so much can be held.
A perfectly accurate summary of what to expect in this book. And I loved exploring that importance and in-and-outs of Ivan's singular life.
This story surprised me, because it opened my eyes to some of the mentalities of mutilated people who have to navigate their small world in their every-day. Ivan Isaenko has lived in Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children for all of his seventeen years of his life, and the unique writing style lets the readers get into his head and see how he occupies his hours. It shows the dark reality of medical ethics in the Soviet Union, and the power of love to change your solitary live.
A heart-jerker for sure, I found myself wiping my cheeks of happy and sad tears. It really moves your heart towards empathy and rooting for Ivan, because of the very personal and vulnerable way that he tries to convey points of his life to you. This is exactly what I've been looking, a narrative that is culturally diverse and moves me; I am currently studying the Russian language so the footnotes were helpful for accuracy which was appreciated by a bilingual person.
All the side characters were developed so beautifully throughout the countdown and count-up sections. I especially loved how human Polina was and everything that went on between them really seemed like a "light in the darkness" of their life. Nurse Natalya was a mother figure who could really read Ivan well and basically dedicated herself to taking care of him, and I was so glad to see this positive influence going on in his life. All the feels though.
**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this for review.**
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