Customer Reviews for

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Depicts how the human spirit prevails - for readers that were moved by ONE DAY, I would also recommend A BEAUTIFUL WORLD by Gregg Milligan

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were t...
ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were the staples of existence for the prisoners, who carved out their daily life through exhaustive work camp labor in sub-zero temperatures. Driven to the edge of survival, readers witness the subtle means by which the lead character maintains his sense of humanity. From simply hanging on to a secret spoon to eat with that he made himself as a means of small hope, to the end of the book where he shows care for his fellow prisoners - the main character's focus is not on things that were lost, such as his former life of freedom with his wife - but instead on things within the camp that he finds to keep him going, such as a pair of felt boots or a small piece of bread he hides to eat later. Such perspective embodies the courageous qualities of the human spirit.

For readers who enjoyed this book, I strongly recommend reading an intense journey that chronicles incredible perseverance in the face of adversity - a memoir by Gregg Milligan called A BEAUTIFUL WORLD. As a young boy subjected to severe physical, mental and sexual abuse, Gregg finds ways to keep his hope alive - such as finding a stray dime to purchase a fruit pie from the corner store, taking refuge in a quiet field at the end of the block, and caring for a kitten rejected by its mother. Readers will be struck the pure innocence of a child's heart prevailing in the depths of evil. The love he has for his siblings and even his abusive mother is a testament to its endurance. An unforgettable story, exquisitely written in a searing visual style, A BEAUTIFUL WORLD will ever remain with those that read it.

The strength and resilience of those that suffer encourages all of us to stay the course, no matter what difficulties in life we may face. Look no further than ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH and A BEAUTIFUL WORLD for proof.

And in the words of Gregg Milligan, "Few rise above all the decadence done unto them. Those blessed few leave a great influence of a better day filled with clean hope and blossoming opportunities. We are all capable of leaving this mark - no matter what we've been through."

posted by SarahAnn09 on September 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review

Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review THIS IS
A SPOILER ALERT! One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, whether the reader enjoys it or not, is a
thought-provoking novel with a dynamic protagonist and important themes
...
Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review THIS IS
A SPOILER ALERT! One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, whether the reader enjoys it or not, is a
thought-provoking novel with a dynamic protagonist and important themes
to take away. This novel documents what a day would be like as a
prisoner in Soviet Russia. Solzhenitsyn was a prisoner, and he was
trying to show his readers what his experience was like. I felt as if a
lot of the book was not enjoyable, there weren’t clear plot elements
such as a rising action and a climax, but I truly enjoyed the lessons it
taught me about my life and about life throughout Soviet Russia. The
protagonist’s name is Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. I believe that the title
does not use his last name in the title because Solzhenitsyn wants the
reader to know that one of the basic struggles of soviet Russia and of
those camps is finding any sort of independence. It is truly amazing
that the whole novel documents just one day in Shukhov’s sentence, out
of the 3,653 days that he serves, and this day proves to be probably the
most important day of his life. Shukhov goes through a complete
transformation in one day, and the way he sees some of his fellow
prisoners changes as well. He starts his day by waking up late, and not
feeling well. In other words, his day could not have started much worse.
He was almost punished for waking up late by a mean guard, was not
allowed to be excused from work for the day, and when he got to
breakfast, if it can be called that at all by the little amount of food
they are given, his tasteless stew was cold. One of the big ways he
changed was not about doing deeds for others, but why he did these
deeds. In the morning, he would volunteer to do someone’s work or stand
in line for his gang leader, for the sole purpose of what he would get
in return. By the end of the day, for the first time in the story, he
gives a fellow inmate some extra food that Shukhov had because the
inmate was simply hungry. I found it significant that the person who
Shukhov gave the food to, Alyoshka, always gives without expecting
something in return. Shukhov always wondered how Alyoshka could do this,
but he realizes that giving for the sake of giving feels good inside.
Ivan Denisovich falls to sleep that night and thinks to himself that
this day was almost a happy day for the first time in his sentence.
While there are many other themes about why Shukhov goes to sleep happy
that night or themes in general, I believe that the motif of giving to
give is the most significant theme of the novel and he is happy because
he has learned how to be a generous person.

posted by LEpstein on August 16, 2012

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