1.) The Bronze Horseman ★★★★★
Buddy Read with Paloma ❤
“We walk alone through this world, but if we’re lucky, we have a moment of belonging to something, to someone, that sustains us through a lifetime of loneliness.”
Okay, so first of all this book should have been named Tatiana OR Alexander based off the amount of time they are actually together. This book is the definition of the word angst. Heartbreaking, torturous angst.
Actual emo Snapchat picture of me being tormented by this book:
Trigger Warnings for attempted rape, graphic violence, graphic depictions of war, and talk of suicide.
I’m going to do my very best to try to review this while staying cohesive, but honestly my thoughts and feelings are sort of all over the place. Also, please do not read this review if you haven’t read The Bronze Horseman or if you care to be spoiled for the events that take place in that book.
This book is told in alternating points of view that flip flops between Tatiana and Alexander. After the events in The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana is starting her new life in America with her newly born son, while Alexander is dealing with the repercussions of war, while being stuck in Europe.
This book is filled with flashbacks. I loved seeing Alexander’s life growing up and how his life was shaped by the choices his parents made. Not that abuse is ever excused, but it was eye-opening to see how many of the things Alexander did to Tatiana were things his father did to his mother. Alexander for sure didn’t have the easiest upbringing, but seeing his life slowly fall more and more apart was really sad.
Alexander goes through a lot of torture in this book, both physical and mental. He goes from captured to war, to war to captured, to captured to more war. It’s heartbreaking, but seeing inside his head and seeing his PTSD develop was really well written. I’ve never been a soldier or a part of any war, and reading this book made me so thankful and aware of my privilege.
Tatiana, like always, proves how amazing of a female character she is. I completely gushed over her in my review of The Bronze Horseman, but all her amazing character traits showed up in this book as well. She’s so selfless, so brave, and so willing to always do what is right.
Like The Bronze Horseman, this book was so atmospheric that you can’t help but feel everything that these characters are going through. Again, the amount of empathy that this series has forced me to feel is actually beyond words. And I think this story would be impossible to forget.
Also, the historical elements in this book is really amazing, too. It’s almost hard to believe that these things actually happened to innocent human beings, just because of where they were born. And seeing how the Soviet soldiers were treated by their own people was nothing short of harrowing. Seeing inside concentration and work camps is beyond heartrending.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book, but it was nothing close to what The Bronze Horseman was. I just feel like there were too many flashbacks, and I wish I could have seen more of Alexander and Tatiana actually being together, through pain or happiness or whatever Paullina Simons chose to give us. Yet, this is still one of the best love stories I’ve ever read.
“Will you remember that? Anywhere you are, if you can look up and find Perseus in the sky, find that smile, and hear the galactic wind whisper your name, you’ll know that it’s me, calling for you… calling you back to Lazarevo.”
This next part is going to be just some super quick and very SPOILER filled thoughts that I had while reading this book that I couldn’t resist mentioning:
-Tatiana taking all of those trips to Arizona, and even buying land, completely broke me. After her surviving in an eternally wintery starvation doom, it made my heart so very happy to see her find sunshine bliss, even if it was only for her and her son.
-I loved that Alexander got to meet Pasha and thought of it as a sign from God. I actually really enjoy all the religious and faith-building elements of this book.
-How in the hell am I going to resist picking up The Summer Garden after this happy cliffhanger ending that promises them both a new life in America together, with their son, and finally happy?
-It made me feel weird that Tatiana was so willing to leave her son. Like, I understand everything worked out in the end, but it still made me feel weird and I thought it was important to mention.
-When Alexander was like, “God saved you because you couldn’t survive what I went through” and I was over here like, did you forget her life in Leningrad? Are you not acknowledging that she left her safe American life to come save you, while also putting her life in danger? Like, do you not realize that Tatiana is a selfless saint and you should be thanking your lucky stars that she loves you?
-As much as I loved the flashbacks, and getting to see things through Alexander’s eyes, I wish that this book had a few extra chapters of current day Alexander and Tatiana being happy together, because I honestly do not feel satisfied with them only being together in only two out of forty-one chapters!