Customer Reviews for

A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir

Average Rating 4
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  • Posted June 15, 2014

    Enjoyable, insightful, would have loved a deeper exploration. A

    Enjoyable, insightful, would have loved a deeper exploration.

    Almost everyone’s story includes a nod to the ‘old country’. If yours is found on the iron side of the curtain then Gorokhova’s ‘A Mountain of Crumbs’ will be familiar. The author braids together history, philosophy, and memoir, and in doing so, strengthens the book as a whole but forgoes depth in each subject.

    I found much to enjoy here and much to relate to: my own grandparent’s frugality. My mother’s firm belief in the satisfaction of hard work. My family’s sloughing off of the old ways. But I wish Gorokhova would have explored some things more deeply. Why was her mother such a staunch supporter of state truth? How did the author decide to leave country, family, and friends? I would have loved for her to juxtapose the poverty and security and welfare of the Soviet State versus freedom loving Americans allowing people to ‘sleep under bridges’ and suffer without healthcare.

    It seemed so easy for the author to leave her homeland and family. She never expresses longing for freedom or for the West but is mostly just perturbed with silly state protocol – the same things I feel when I renew my driver’s license. In fact, her decision to leave isn’t really even a decision: she simply jumps aboard a wind that blows from an American student: he proposes to her as a means to help her leave the USSR with the caveat that he will continue to see other women while they are married.

    However much I wished for something deeper I was absorbed by the book and story. The prose is wonderful, especially for a non-native speaker. The characters can be thin and, typical for memoirs, there are some dry spots but the story will carry anyone with an interest in family or history. This isn’t quite Tolstoy or Solzhenitsyn but a very good read in its own right. Well worth the cost.

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