Book Review: Stalina by Emily Rubin

by Notorious Spinks on 03.08.2011

stalina by emily rubin


After the fall of the Soviet Union, Stalina Folskaya’s homeland is little more than a bankrupt country of broken dreams. She flees St. Petersburg in search of a better life in America, leaving behind her elderly mother and the grief of the past. A trained chemist in Russia, but disillusioned by her prospects in the US, she becomes a maid at The Liberty, a “short-stay” motel on the outskirts of Hartford. Able to envision beauty and profit even here, Stalina convinces her boss to let her transform the motel into a fantasy destination. Business skyrockets and puts the American dream within her sights. Obsessed with avenging her family while also longing for a new life, Stalina is about a woman whose imagination—and force of personality—will let her stop at nothing. –

My feelings for this novel are mixed.  On one hand it’s a well written book but on the other hand it’s not quite there for me.  It was as if the book had no plot or rather no climax.

I did enjoy reading the narrator’s description of Russia post Soviet Union.  However, I wasn’t sure if the details were facts.

For the most part the characters were well-developed and the author did a good job of painting a visual picture of the scenes. I also enjoyed exploring the relationships of the characters.  My favorite character was Stalina’s mother.  Her mother liked to curse and y’all know I like people who curse… Shhhhh!  I also enjoyed reading about her father’s love for American literature.  I think it was her me wanting to know more about her father at-times that kept me interested.

On the other hand, I didn’t like some of the criticisms the narrator made about America.  I’m one of those people who believe in the mantra, “Love it or Leave!”  I’m okay with comparing differences between America and Russia but I caught myself telling the narrator, “Leave then!”  Maybe it’s the American in me.

So for the most part this a well told story but I just felt like it was missing something.  Maybe Stalina and Mr. Suri should have done more or maybe it should have given more detail as to why Stalina really came to America.  Was it for the American dream that she often criticized?  Why?

*This book was provided by the author for review.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Man of la Book March 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

Interesting review. I just finished reading this book and wrote my thoughts about it over the weekend (posting it this Wednesday). We had the same reaction, I also had mixed feelings about this book.

I didn’t find the criticism of America bothersome. Most of the criticism was valid. This country is not a finished product (and never will be).


Notorious Spinks March 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I look forward to reading your review. Thanks for checking me out.


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