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Jonathan YardleyGrushin leads all of these people…with a sure hand and an equally sure gift for surprise. Every one of her characters—by the end the cast is large—comes fully to life and reveals depths the reader at first does not sense. Grushin understands, as she says of Sergei, that he realized "just how small his private immensity really was when measured against that other vast, dark, impersonal immensity, call it God, or history, or simply life," yet she grants him, and all the others, individuality and dignity. Her disdain for the system under which they live ultimately matters far less than her sympathy for them, with which this beautiful book is suffused from first page to last.
—The Washington Post