Review of Red Stars: The Case of Viktor and Nadya's Notebooks

Red Stars: The Case of Viktor and Nadya’s Notebooks
by Davide Morosinotto; trans. from Italian by Denise Muir
Intermediate, Middle School    Delacorte    432 pp.    g
11/20    978-1-9848-9332-1    $19.99
Library ed.  978-1-9848-9333-8    $22.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-9334-5    $10.99

Viktor and Nadya are twelve-year-old twins living in Leningrad during World War II. In defiance of the non-aggression pact, Germany invades Russia and lays siege to the city. As children are evacuated, Viktor and Nadya are put on separate trains. Nadya’s train is stopped and the children dispersed; Nadya and several companions find refuge on an abandoned island fortress, while Viktor ends up in a gulag. After he escapes, he incorrectly learns that Nadya’s train was bombed with no survivors but refuses to believe it. Eventually, Viktor does find Nadya through some fortuitous coincidences, and together they are able to unravel a stunning tale of treason and betrayal at the highest levels of Soviet leadership. The book’s format is innovative and adds immediacy. It’s written as a series of journal notebooks — Nadya’s entries are in navy blue, while Viktor’s are in cherry red, complemented by maps and photographs in the same color palettes — which are now being used as evidence to determine whether the children have committed crimes against the Soviet Union. The officer reviewing their case has ominously written notes and questions in the margin; he has also re-ordered parts to aid the narrative flow. Attentive readers will be richly rewarded by this gripping historical mystery.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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