It’s the Cold War era, the days when Joseph Stalin was revered with god-like status. Communism is the rule of the land, and 10-year-old Sasha Zaichik is totally devoted to the cause. He and his father live in a large commune, and have nothing that is their own. Sasha is looking forward to his first day as a Young Pioneer, the day he will swear lifelong allegiance to Comrade Stalin. But the night before that is to happen, things start falling apart for Sasha. He begins to question everything he was taught.
Although the story is fictional, the author pulls the basic ideas from his childhood in Russia during the Cold War years. If you wonder why millions of people in the world would put up with Communism, this is a great book to read. It shows the constant surveillance of the government, the indoctrination of young children, the tremendous pressure to conform, and the domino effect when people start turning in others to make themselves guiltless. It reminded me of the Salem Witch Trials in our country years ago. People become so battered-down and discouraged that it becomes almost impossible to change the tyrannical system. Let’s hope and pray that we never have to personally experience such a government.
(This book is appropriate for ages 10 and up.)