The Endless Steppe

Author: Esther Rudomin Hautzig

Publisher: New York: Harper & Row 1968
pages: 243

Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Biography
Topics: WWII, coming of age
Media Type: Book

Grade level: 5-Adult

Reader's annotation: During WWII Esther and her family were removed from their comfortable house in Poland and exiled to the harsh Asian Steppes until the war ended. Esther recounts the way they make do and find some creative ways to survive.

Summary: This is Esther’s autobiography of the period when her family was forced out of their home in Poland to live an exiled life on the Russian Siberian Steppe during WWII. Life is pretty grim there, first in the crowded barracks filling their days with the back-breaking work at the gypsum mine, and eventually in their own dirt floored hut, farming potatoes to keep from starving to death. Esther eventually goes to school, makes some friends and even becomes entrepreneurial with her knitting business. Though she has been separated from her father for several years, she is afraid to leave this place and go back to the unknown destruction of Poland after the war is over.

The reader will be impressed with her ability to stay so positive in such poverty and find the beauty in life that keeps her going. Girls will enjoy the compassion to the human spirit that is brought out in them when they read her story and will keep her in their minds afterwards.

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I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.