Maps and Shadows: A Novel

Maps and Shadows: A Novel

by Krysia Jopek

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607720089
Publisher: Aquila Polonica
Publication date: 01/16/2011
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 1,210,559
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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Maps and Shadows 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! The story was creative, a page-turner and full of depth!
SAHARATEA More than 1 year ago
"I will urge Helcia to carve out the bloodspill with her pen" This is the thought that Henryk carries in his mind as his family is being transported to Siberia from their rural home in Poland. Despite his youth, he can sense the turmoil that is uprooting them and the violence that will come, and can only hope that Helcia and her poetry will help make sense of it all. In Maps and Shadows, the novel released this month by Krysia Jopek, we see how this small family of five is transported on a journey far more distant than Siberia. The story is tightly based on the actual events in Poland and Russia, and beyond, from 1939 to 1955. Unique in many ways, Jopek's novel combines a fast-paced narrative with poetry created by the character of Helcia. Her poems are placed throughout the chapters that explore the events through the separate viewpoints of the four oldest family members: Andrzej and Zofia (the parents), and Helcia and Henryk (the two oldest children). While each experiences their deportation differently, they are united in the hope that "some of us, at least, would survive." While much of the events of the Polish being sent to Siberia were familiar, the aftermath was not. Stalin had "freed" the Poles to fight alongside Russia against Germany, in a move that pleased the US and Britain. However, this left thousands of Polish families stranded in Siberia with no means of return while the Polish men went off to fight. Thus, a displacement of these Poles, mostly women and small children to parts of Africa and the Middle East (22 convalescent camps with 19,000 Poles in Africa alone) was completely new to me. In some cases, the British helped the Poles to reunite with their families and also provided camps and education in the interim. Yet, when WWII ended, despite their the many Polish soldiers who supported the Allied efforts, "the Polish military were asked not to march in the celebratory Victory Parade in London.those in power in England and the United States did not want to alienate Stalin." It was painful yet fascinating to read about the resilience of the people whose lives were uprooted so viciously and repeatedly. Only their family ties remained valuable to them as material items were so transient. They had to endure the frigid cold of Siberia and then relatively quickly try to acclimatize to the heat of Africa, and their health was forever compromised by the years of malnourishment and mental anguish. Kopek's tactic of letting each character explain their own interpretation is revealing as it shows the more personal suffering of each: a father tormented by his inability to protect his family, a mother desperate to see that her toddler have milk, and the two older children trying to put on a brave face to alleviate the worry of their parents as they themselves are forced to grow up far too soon. Helcia's means of coping was her poetry. Words and phrases that reveal a mature realization of the larger implications of their suffering, in "Ice Garden": This scrim of the inner room The door of some other now, the book Of will unknown. The book of how And why drowned, encrusted under: Sisyphus longed for a beginning, middle And end to make it all bearable or seem To have a context. The shortest distance Between two points can be viole[n]t Those wounds in the armpits Wary at the lookout, ready to bow And disregard history's narrative. Notice the word play she creates with viole[n]t. The
janimar More than 1 year ago
This novel is based in a Polish family's experience during World War II. They are deported by the Soviet soldiers and forced to travel by train and later by foot to labor camps in Siberia. This was near the beginning of the war when the Soviets occupied Poland. You follow their travels, often being separated from each other, in Siberia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Africa, Italy, England and finally all ending up in the United States. Krysia Jopek has the story unfold with chapters from the perspective of four family members: Andrzej, the father; Zofia, the mother, Henryk, the oldest son, and Hegia, the daughter. It is fascinating to hear the story from the different voices. Andrzej works hard to provide for his family in cold barren Siberia. He is later separated from the rest of his family but sends money when he can. Zofia is concerned about feeding her children and when her husband is gone she provides food for the children. She worries about the effects of the cold of Siberia, the heat of Africa and the lack of food will have on the growth of all the children especially the youngest, Jozef. Henryk is seen has a young boy, and as he grows he is separated from the family, learning skills as he grows into a man. Hegia is also young when they are deported and writes poetry of the family's experience. Hegia's poetry also often separates chapters and is beautiful and powerful especially the one entitled "[D]ANGER: to live in a place not one's own." The harsh realities bring the family together in Siberia and they try to stay in connect even when they are separated later. After the war, as Poland is now occupied by the Soviets the family cannot return without renouncing their Polish heritage. The Polish Army Resettlement Corps created by the British government worked to get Polish soldiers back into civilian life. Opportunities also were made available to the rest of the family and so they eventually immigrated to America with skills that opened up job opportunities for them all in their new country. This is the story of Krysia Jopek's own family as Henryk is her father. This story is well written and hard to put down as you hear the story of a family that loves each other and is put through such horrible experiences. Their story is powerful and gives a glimpse of one of the many families that were deported during World War II. The book includes a reading guide with study questions that makes it appropriate for Book Clubs and I also think that older teens would appreciate this story. My brother-in-law's family immigrated to the United States from Poland and I plan on giving him this book for Christmas.
readerbynight More than 1 year ago
Although this book is a novel, it is a story told from the hearts of four people of a family of five, beginning with the brutal Soviet invasion of Poland, essentially the first day of World War II, followed by the Germans and the subsequent deportation of its former citizens, this book is an eye-opener to what it is like to have no country. For Poland has disappeared from the globe before and is about to be wiped off the map again. The story is so terrible and the writing so lyrical, the juxtaposition emphasizes both the interrupted and horror-filled lives with the beauty of the writing. This book is about a part of the war that is not often told. This was a fitting way to tell it. I learned a lot from this small book that larger tomes never told me. Each person, except the youngest, tells their story separately throughout the book. Even though the family is separated several times, you know it is always together in their minds, hopes and dreams. They share a past, present, and a hope for the future even when hope seems lost. Interspersed throughout the book are poems, beautiful poems. Krysia Jopek through her poems and through her novel shows how very talented she is. I am thankful for the opportunity to "know" this family and the hardships faced by the Polish people as they are moved like pawns from the frozen bleakness of Siberia, and thrust into the equally bleak heat of Africa. It is a wonder that anyone survived. And, of course, many did not. This is a wonderful book of a little-known time at the beginning and running through the entire time of the war. So much could not be said through the ensuing years because of the traumatic events some remember too clearly, and some have put away somewhere where they hope they will never recall it again. I definitely recommend this book on several levels, especially for the writing.
DarcyO More than 1 year ago
"Maps and Shadows," a novel by Krysia Jopek, informs readers about an aspect of World War II that has rarely seen the light of day - the Soviet deportation of almost 1.5 million Polish civilians to forced labor camps in Siberia. Jopek's family was among those deported. Each chapter in Jopek's novel is narrated by one of four family members: Andrzej (father), Zofia (mother), Henryk (brother), and Helcia (sister). The story begins with the family living a good life farming land the Polish government gave to Andrzej as a reward for his service in the Polish army during World War I. Then, in September 1939, Germany attacks Poland, easily overpowering its military and slaughtering civilians. While Germany invades from the west, Russia invades from the east. At gunpoint, Russian soldiers force Jopek's family to be herded with other Poles onto trains to Siberia where Andrzej and Henryk are part of a work crew charged with felling trees to aid in Russia's war effort. The family is at the work camp for 18 months, enduring seasons of bitter cold and a paucity of food. They are freed only because Russia needs the Poles to help fight the Germans. The family is then torn apart. Andrzej leaves the camp to enlist in the Polish army while the rest of the family flees to Uzbekistan, where Henryk joins the Young Soldiers Battalions. Zofia, Helcia and Jozef, the family's youngest son, continue on to Persia. Henryk's battalion is then assigned duty in Palestine, where fate brings him together with Andrzej for a few precious minutes. Family members endure more displacement until the end of the war. Surviving against all odds, they reunite in England and finally make their home in Connecticut. I had not heard of the Polish deportation prior to reading "Maps and Shadows" and find it amazing that this family and other families endured such a long journey of displacement and cruel and inhumane conditions. It all makes my current troubles seem so very insignificant. I appreciate the story being told from four different viewpoints, each shedding light on the family's inner turmoil and struggles. Author Kysia Jopek is also a poet and she intersperses poetry throughout the novel. The cover art is beautiful, adding more historical snippets to the story. I recommend this book to everyone, but especially to those of Polish descent and to readers of historical fiction. My review is based on an advance copy from the publisher, Aquila Polonica Publishing. The publication date is November 2010.
lkernagh on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I found this fictionalized memoir about one family's experiences during the Second World War to be a fascinating read, in particular, the historical facts around the war's effect on Poland's status as a country and the harsh environment the deported Poles faced in the labour camps in Northern Siberia. I am not a poetry fan so I won't comment on the poems that are found at the end of each chapter. Told through four alternating voices - father Andrezej, mother Zofia, daughter Helcia and son Henryk - the story captures the family's thoughts, feelings and observations on the war, deportation from their homeland, military service with the Allied forces, the Polish settlements in Africa and the start of a new life after the war.At a mere 135 pages, it makes for a quick, fascinating trip into a period in history's past, told from a unique viewpoint.
BlackSheepDances on LibraryThing 5 months ago
¿I will urge Helcia to carve out the bloodspill with her pen¿This is the thought that Henryk carries in his mind as his family is being transported to Siberia from their rural home in Poland. Despite his youth, he can sense the turmoil that is uprooting them and the violence that will come, and can only hope that Helcia and her poetry will help make sense of it all. In Maps and Shadows, the novel released this month by Krysia Jopek, we see how this small family of five is transported on a journey far more distant than Siberia. The story is tightly based on the actual events in Poland and Russia, and beyond, from 1939 to 1955. Unique in many ways, Jopek¿s novel combines a fast-paced narrative with poetry created by the character of Helcia. Her poems are placed throughout the chapters that explore the events through the separate viewpoints of the four oldest family members: Andrzej and Zofia (the parents), and Helcia and Henryk (the two oldest children). While each experiences their deportation differently, they are united in the hope that ¿some of us, at least, would survive.¿ While much of the events of the Polish being sent to Siberia were familiar, the aftermath was not. Stalin had ¿freed¿ the Poles to fight alongside Russia against Germany, in a move that pleased the US and Britain. However, this left thousands of Polish families stranded in Siberia with no means of return while the Polish men went off to fight. Thus, a displacement of these Poles, mostly women and small children to parts of Africa and the Middle East (22 convalescent camps with 19,000 Poles in Africa alone) was completely new to me. In some cases, the British helped the Poles to reunite with their families and also provided camps and education in the interim. Yet, when WWII ended, despite their the many Polish soldiers who supported the Allied efforts, ¿the Polish military were asked not to march in the celebratory Victory Parade in London¿those in power in England and the United States did not want to alienate Stalin.¿ It was painful yet fascinating to read about the resilience of the people whose lives were uprooted so viciously and repeatedly. Only their family ties remained valuable to them as material items were so transient. They had to endure the frigid cold of Siberia and then relatively quickly try to acclimatize to the heat of Africa, and their health was forever compromised by the years of malnourishment and mental anguish. Kopek¿s tactic of letting each character explain their own interpretation is revealing as it shows the more personal suffering of each: a father tormented by his inability to protect his family, a mother desperate to see that her toddler have milk, and the two older children trying to put on a brave face to alleviate the worry of their parents as they themselves are forced to grow up far too soon. Helcia¿s means of coping was her poetry. Words and phrases that reveal a mature realization of the larger implications of their suffering, in "Ice Garden":This scrim of the inner roomThe door of some other now, the bookOf will unknown. The book of howAnd why drowned, encrusted under:Sisyphus longed for a beginning, middleAnd end to make it all bearable or seemTo have a context. The shortest distanceBetween two points can be viole[n]tThose wounds in the armpitsWary at the lookout, ready to bowAnd disregard history¿s narrative. Notice the word play she creates with viole[n]t. The use of the brackets gives color to the meaning of violence: the violet of the inevitable bruising. In another poem she similarly writes [D]anger, to contrast the emotions felt ¿to live in a place not one¿s own.¿ In fact, she refers to this homelessness and ties in the book's title with the reality of changing maps of the world:Villains can change out of costume,Spectators, easily cajoledThe cartographer obsequiously pleasantTo be paid on time.In all, the novel was fascinating in style and content, as were the new aspects (to me) of post-Siberia rehabilitation
ElizaJane on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Reason for Reading: I enjoy memoirs of the war (even fictionalized) and I particularly like WWII books which introduce me to new information that is not so widely known.This is a novel but is based on the true story of the author's father's family (his siblings and their parents). I also think there is a fuzzy line between where the truth ends and the fiction begins. It truly seems that the author used the novel format simply so she could write her family's story from all sides, giving voice to all four members old enough to tell their own story.This story tells one Polish family's experience as Russia invades and sends all Poles to labour camps in two places in the frozen Arctic. The Jopeks are sent to Siberia and it is from this point their story is told as they are separated and survive the war being sent from country to country, with even a few years stop in Tanganyika, until they eventually end up as people stripped of their Polish citizenship and start a new life in America. Told in the first person, the narrative switches back and forth between the father, who at first chance leaves Siberia to join the Polish army for the good of his family, the eldest son (the author's father) who much later on joins the Young Polish Battalion (at first to help supply extra rations to his mother & siblings), the sister, the eldest child in the family and the mother, who tries to give her remaining children hope. The youngest boy is but 4 when they are deported and knows no other kind of life by the time the war is over.I had a hard time with the Prologue but once the chapters started I became interested and the further on the story went the more involved I became in the lives of these people. I came to care for them and root for their survival. The Table of Contents tells us right off that the last chapter is called "The Burial" and with the wonder of whose burial it would be hanging over my head throughout the book I really came to love each and every one of them. Having read many books about the forced labour camps much of the information wasn't new to me, yet of course it is always shocking that people were treated this way, and each person's story is unique in its own way.What I found absolutely fascinating was the whole role Poland had in WWII and how it's people were treated by the "Allies". First they are invaded by Communist Russia (their long time enemy) and then suddenly Russia becomes their "ally" in the war. The Polish people lost their country to Communist Russia; Poland had fought under its own flag in the war and yet no one came to help them get their country back. They were forbidden to march in the victory parade at the end of the war by the British and US so as not to offend Lenin. Stripped of their citizenship if they did not immediately return to the new Communist ruled Poland thousands of exiled Poles became "displaced persons" who had fought a war to save their country's freedom, only in the end to be scattered to the ends of the earth: Britain, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico, United States and the few who did go back home knowing it would never be the same with their enemy now in control.A very vivid personal tale of one family's experience of the war from their own unique experience, which would have been echoed by many other Polish families in similar yet unique to them ways. Also, an extremely eye-opening look at a not so familiar aspect of World War II's history, the Polish experience, a people who fought hard and ended up with no country or citizenship.
pbadeer on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Read as an Early Reviewer, I felt the book could not decide whether it was a work of poetry, a work of fiction or a memoir. It is technically billed as a novel, and in its purest sense, that's exactly what it was. But since the story is real (when Russia attacked Poland at the start of WWII (under the terms of a secret agreement with Germany to allow Russia to recapture land they lost after WWI) they deported over a million Polish cititzens to Siberia), and the author's family was impacted by this in real life, there is a lot of historic fact packed into it - and far more than what you would normally expect. References to what happened after the war and inclusion of facts of WWII really help bring the novel into clear relief.As a work of historical fiction, it performs well, but there are a few writing techniques which caused me some distress. Each chapter is broken into the voice of a different family member as they experience their deportation. The result is that some of it is repetitive - as we get the same experience from different points of view - and the characters within the chapters aren't as well defined as they should be so I often became confused on who was speaking. Also, since the author is a poet, she introduced poems in between chapters and each chapter itself was introduced by a sort of poetic text. I did not appreciate these and I felt they did not help tie the narrative together.
Niecierpek on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The book deals with a relatively little publicized piece of Polish WWII history- the displacement of 1.5 million Polish civilians from the eastern parts of Poland, their deportation to Siberia by the invading Russians in 1939, their subsequent labour camp experience and journeys through the Soviet republics to the Middle East and Africa following an amnesty in 1941 to join the newly formed Polish army in exile. The family at the center of the story is from a farm in Pilsudczyzna- the land in the east of Poland. The family fortunes are narrated from four points of view: Andrzej¿s ¿ the father of the family, Zofia¿s- his wife, and Helcia¿s and Henryk¿s- their older children. Their voices weave in and out as they are thrown apart to different places and then get together again. The characters are well drawn I enjoyed the narrative, poems, and maps and illustrations. I could have used some more details, but it was a good and interesting read.
YossarianXeno on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Maps and Shadows is a crisply written book, setting out with brutal simplicity the deportation of a family from Eastern Poland in 1939 following the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. It traces the degradation and misery of their forced journey to Siberia where they were put to work chopping trees in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees. To avoid spoiling the story I¿ll avoid offering any more plot detail.Though described as a novel, the book is based upon the experiences of the author¿s father and his family. It is a very short book, little more than 100 pages. There was perhaps an alternative writing format; the novel as it is could have been the plan for a 1000 page epic novel. But it feels as if the author has decided to stick more or less faithfully to the known facts of family history rather than seek to embellish them; the knowledge of that makes the tale all the more powerful.
readerbynight on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Maps and Shadows by Krysia JopekAlthough this book is a novel, it is a story told from the hearts of four people of a family of five, beginning with the brutal Soviet invasion of Poland, essentially the first day of World War II, followed by the Germans and the subsequent deportation of its former citizens, this book is an eye-opener to what it is like to have no country. For Poland has disappeared from the globe before and is about to be wiped off the map again. The story is so terrible and the writing so lyrical, the juxtaposition emphasizes both the interrupted and horror-filled lives with the beauty of the writing. This book is about a part of the war that is not often told. This was a fitting way to tell it. I learned a lot from this small book that larger tomes never told me. Each person, except the youngest, tells their story separately throughout the book. Even though the family is separated several times, you know it is always together in their minds, hopes and dreams. They share a past, present, and a hope for the future even when hope seems lost.Interspersed throughout the book are poems, beautiful poems. Krysia Jopek through her poems and through her novel shows how very talented she is. I am thankful for the opportunity to "know" this family and the hardships faced by the Polish people as they are moved like pawns from the frozen bleakness of Siberia, and thrust into the equally bleak heat of Africa. It is a wonder that anyone survived. And, of course, many did not.This is a wonderful book of a little-known time at the beginning and running through the entire time of the war. So much could not be said through the ensuing years because of the traumatic events some remember too clearly, and some have put away somewhere where they hope they will never recall it again. I definitely recommend this book on several levels, especially for the writing.
michellereads on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I'm not sure how to review this book. On the one hand, I found the poetry off-putting, and the various narrative voices somewhat confusing. On the other hand, it was a compelling read and a great look into the lives of the polish people during the Second World War. In the end, I feel that the content would have been more appealing if it had been covered in a different format. There were just too many things going on here - poetry, prose, fact, fiction, and four different narrators. However, it was a rather short and at times quite interesting read, and I'm very glad to have read it.
cerievans1 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A fascinating, epic (despite being 140 pages), tear inducing, life affirming novel-cum-family history. Brilliant structure with each chapter narrated by a different member of the family, with photo based etchings and poetry to set the scene. Maps and Shadows tells the little known story of the forced displacement of 1.5 million poles in the second world war, by the Russians, to work camps in Siberia and focusses on the family story of Krysia Jopek's father, siblings and parents through slave labour, -40 temperatures, starvation and eventually to freedom. I cannot recommend this book highly enough it made me appreciate more fully the persecution of the poles in the Second World War, the not entirely fault-free role of the British, that the Russians "changed sides" halfway through the war....... 5 stars.
bnbookgirl on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I found this book rather awkward to read. I loved the free verse pages, but the rest of it was a chore for me. I like novels told in different voices so that was not the issue. I think it felt disjointed. I was not enamored with any of the characters either. There is not really a whole lot to say about this book, it is very thin and it just never really grabbed me. I am not discounting this part of history, it is tragic, I was just disappointed with the book.
catherinestead on LibraryThing 5 months ago
It's not that I disliked this book. I didn't. The story that it tells is compelling and important, and the prose and poetry are good. But it's not good fiction. It's marketed as a novel, but it seems to be a very lightly fictionalised memoir. And it would have been better written as a work of non-fiction. It's often hard to remember that this is supposed to be fiction and supposed to be told from multiple perspectives. There is a single voice telling the story - or rather, the multiple voices are so similar as to be indistinguishable. The emotions and experiences differ - but the authorial voice is the same. The prose is heavily narrative, very descriptive. Vivid, beautiful description, both informative and touching - but always narrative rather than experience, always told rather than shown. The book is also surprisingly short: the various vignettes show something of the reality of the family's deportation and lives as soldiers and refugees, but they never really allow much connection with the people. This is not a bad book. The author is plainly both skilled as a writer and passionate about that part of her family's history. But this book ought to have been written either as a work of non-fiction or as a more heavily fictionalised account. As either, it could have been immensely powerful. As it is, it falls between the two and, while sometimes powerful, more often feels awkward.
RoseCityReader on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Maps and Shadows is Krysia Jopek's gripping novel based on the true-life travails of the author's father and his family during World War II. When the Russian army invaded Poland in 1939, it deported the family ¿ and thousands of other Poles ¿ to Siberia, where the father Andrzej and oldest son Hynryk logged the frozen forests while the mother Zofia, daughter Helcia, and toddler Jozef tried to keep the family from starving or freezing to death.That was just the beginning. Shifting war-time allegiances resulted in release from Siberian slave labor, but separation and years of danger for the family. Forced to disperse, the family found itself swept from Siberia to Iran, Palestine, Italy, Uzbekistan, Africa, and England before finally settling in America. This is an incredibly story about a seldom-considered aspect of WWII. It is quite short and reads more like non-fiction than a novel, but is still a compelling look at how war affects ordinary people.
jayde1599 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Synopsis: Maps and Shadows tells the story of the Soviet deportation of Polish civilians to the Siberian labor camps during World War Two. The story is told in a multi-person view of the Jopek family. Daughter Helcia is 12 when the story begins. She writes poetry and wants to be a teacher. Elder son Henryk is 11 and younger son Jozef is 4. The story follows the family to Siberia and then across continents when they are released from the labor camps and separated by war.I enjoyed this alternate view of World War II history, one that is rarely told. The book is wonderfully written and the characters are well developed. I felt for the family as they endured harsh winters, humiliating travels, sickness, and separation. Yet, somehow they are able to tell their story - of all that they had lost and the closeness that they maintained.Highly recommeded
Anonymous More than 1 year ago