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Red Stone By Gabriele Goldstone
presented by Rebelight Publishing!
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It's set in a time and place in history
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Katya knows all about Stalin’s big plans; she learned of them in school. But those plans mean little to her until the secret police arrest Papa and seize their family farm. With Mama and her younger siblings, Katya is shoved into a crowded train headed for a forced labour camp in Siberia. Torn from everything she has ever known, Katya faces cold and hunger, and the ever-present threat of lost hope. As she clings to a single red stone from the fields of her homeland, she questions life. Where is Papa? Will she ever see him again? And what will become of Katya’s family?
Inspired by a true story, Red Stone explores the trauma and heart¬break suffered by many families in the Soviet Union during the 1930s when Stalin seized individual property and villainized property owners as kulaks.
GABRIELE GOLDSTONE, the oldest daughter of European immigrants, always looked for stories about her parents’ past. She majored in 20th century German literature at university but was disappointed that she could not find the stories she sought. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, her mother’s anecdotes and history began to click together. In 2004, Gabriele traveled to Ukraine and searched through former KGB files to find more missing pieces—and Katya’s red stone. Gabriele lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has three adult children along with a silver-grey cat and a golden-haired dog.
~Red Stone Excerpt~
It’s March 7, 1930 and today is my birthday. I’m eleven years old. There’ll be no celebration, though. Sofie and Marthe are sick with fever and cough, and Mama says it’s better not to bring any visitors along after school.
So it’ll be just another day.
When I approach the school a crowd of students are gathered around a shiny black government automobile. That’s strange. I’m even more surprised when Uncle Leo climbs out of it.
He’s wearing a long brown overcoat with a red belt and an OGPU badge
on the sleeve. So that’s his job with the government—he belongs to the secret police. Is he here on official business? Or will he embarrass me with a birthday gift in front of all my classmates?
He doesn’t look my way. Instead, he marches straight through the crowd and over to Comrade Muenster. The two stand by the door talking. As we line-up outside, Uncle Leo watches each of us. He pulls out a notebook and writes things down. What is he writing? I don’t trust him!
“Katya?” Uncle Leo asks, when it’s my turn to enter. He looks down at his notebook and scribbles something with a pencil.
“Hello, Uncle Leo.” I offer cautiously.
“My name is Comrade Bonkowski, you little twit.”
I look away, my face burning and my heart thumping.
Uncle Leo turns to the teacher. “You must teach these children to respect their leaders.”
“Yes, Comrade.” Comrade Muenster looks anxious.
I slink to my classroom. At my desk, I keep my head down, even when Uncle Leo is introduced and begins his speech.
“I have here a list of the property owners of Federofka and the surrounding area.
The executive committee of the local Soviet has instructed me to remind you that on January 30th of this year, the decree to liquefy all kulaks was made official. I have brought a poster that will be displayed in this classroom to help you understand.”
He unrolls the poster and passes it to Comrade Muenster, who puts it up beside Stalin’s portrait. The poster shows a giant tractor running over animals and farmers. “Destroy the kulaks as a class” is sprawled across it in big letters.
I sink further down into my desk, feeling like a tractor has already run me over. Uncle Leo’s not finished. “All private landowners are bloodsuckers.” I glance up and see Uncle Leo staring right at me. “There’s no such thing as a good kulak. All are exploiters. All are class enemies. We will find the extra food that you kulaks hoard. We will round up the livestock for our collectives. We will take your servants and make them into proud workers, not impoverished slaves.”
He nods to Comrade Muenster, who motions us to rise. We stand at attention and sing The Internationale. Stanza three begins with the words, “You’ve sucked enough of our blood, you vampires,” and Uncle Leo’s grim face breaks into an ugly smile.
I feel the power of that smile for the rest of the day. It smirks at me when I’m reading or solving arithmetic problems. It makes it impossible to swallow the piece of cherry cake that Mama put in my lunch.
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