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Randal

Randal

Fascinating!

Everything is Normal: The Life and Times of a Soviet Kid - Sergey Grechishkin

An amazing story of growing up in the Soviet Union during the 1970-80's. The author very capably describes what it was like to be a child and teenager during this time.
I was surprised to read that his childhood was much like mine (in the U.S.) in some ways. School, friends, crazy hijinks. But different in so many other ways. Shortages of food and other goods, standing in lines, and limited news to mention a few. He describes how the country dealt with the death of Brezhnev, and on through the next several short lived rulers, to the freshness of Gorbachev.
For example, a few lines stood out to me.....
"She got me an awesome present: a piece of chewing gum. Had I been given such a thing several years later, I would have squirreled it away to share with my friends on some meaningful occasion".
"Many foodstuffs Westerners take for granted didn't exist in the Soviet universe even as a concept. There was no such thing as breakfast cereal, peanut butter, or ready-made-and-eat meals of any kind. We had never heard of yogurt, burgers, french fries, marshmallows, tea bags, popcorn, cookies with fillings, or a hundred other delicious items".
I was surprised at the rigors of their schooling. "In fifth grade, we began to study organic and inorganic chemistry, astromony, physics and ever more advanced math. These were mutli-year courses, and none of them were optional".
There was also "basic military training", taught in grade school. It was taught in the classroom, and "taught us simple and useful life skills, such as how to assemble and disassemble a Kalashnikov, an AK-47 assault rifle, in less than thirty seconds".
As far as basic rights, the author described it well when he stated, "In the Soviet Union, there is freedom of speech. But it's not written anywhere that one should be free after his speech".
I found this book to be fascinating, enlightening, and easy to read. I really hope that it is a big success, so others can learn about what it was like growing up in the Soviet Union.