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a backpack, a bear

A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir - Lev Golinkin

Golinkin was only eleven when he with his father, mother, sister and grandmother fled the Ukraine. Although they were a non secular Jewish family, persecution in the school, and society in general made this a must decision. This takes place in the 1980's, and although things are slowly changing in the Soviet Union, restrictions loosening just enough for many Jewish families to apply for permission to leave. It was not easy and at times downright scary, but they and many others, persevere.

They were luckier than many, the met some really good people whose purpose was only to help those trying to relocate and seek asylum in other counties. Although the ending was not as strong as most of this book, I felt it was form the most part well written and very informative. How hard it was to relocate, this family ends up in Lafayette, Indiana and while they found many good people, they also found people who didn't want foreigners in their city. Golinkin, himself, tried to deny his Jewishness, attending a Catholic College but eventually he learns to embrace who he is.

There was quite a bit of humor too, some passages had me laughing out loud. While talking about the power of the Russian babushka he wrote,
"Paul Christensen was a smart man, a PHD candidate, and it did not take him long to absorb a crucial lesson of Soviet survival: never cross a babushka."

I was drawn to this by it's quirky title and if you want to know about the eight cases of vodka, you will have to read this honest account of a young man trying to find his identity.