The Lost Year

The Lost Year cover
The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh

By Katherine Marsh
Roaring Brook Press, 2023
354 pages

Ages 9-13

Three compelling storylines move back and forth between the first months of the pandemic in 2020, and Ukraine and Brooklyn in 1932 and 1933. Matt, 12 (white), is an only child living with his mother and great-grandmother, Nadiya, known as GG, during lockdown. He’s lonely, bored, chafing at his mother’s rules, and alternately angry at and worried about his dad, a journalist based in Paris. GG is sometimes tender, and sometimes moody, especially when Matt asks questions about the diaries, letters, and a photograph in her boxes of belongings. These tell the tale of three cousins: Mila, the privileged daughter of a Ukrainian Soviet official in Kyiv, has never doubted the goodness of her father, the government, or Papa Stalin; Nadiya has lost her family to famine in the Ukrainian countryside; Helen, daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant family in Brooklyn, chafes at a recent New York Times piece denying the Ukrainian famine and is determined the set the record straight while helping bring her cousin Nadiya to America. As Matt follows his father’s journalistic advice for building trust with GG, the cousins’ stories, with twists, turns, and GG’s painful secret at their core, unfold. And as Matt builds a deeper relationship with GG, he moves outside his own worry and frustration, and into conversations with his parents that help him better deal with the uncertainty of the pandemic. An author’s note tells more about the Soviet-engineered Ukrainian famine, the Holodomor. ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center