A Mountain of Crumbs : Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, Paperback

A Mountain of Crumbs : Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


"A Mountain of Crumbs" is the moving story of a young Soviet girl's discovery of the hidden truths of adulthood and her country's profound political deception.

Elena, born with a desire to explore the world beyond her borders, finds her passion in the complexity of the English language - but in the Soviet Union of the 1960s, such a passion verges on the subversive.

Elena's home is no longer the majestic Russia of literature or the tsars.

Instead, it is a nation humiliated by its first faltering steps after World War II, putting up appearances for the sake of its regime and fighting to retain its pride.

In this deeply affecting memoir, Elena re-creates the world that both oppressed and inspired her.

She recounts stories passed down to her about the horrors of the Bolshevik Revolution and probes the daily deprivations and small joys of her family's bunkerlike existence.

Through Elena's captivating voice, we learn not only the personal story of Russia in the second half of the twentieth century, but also the story of one rebellious citizen whose love of a foreign language finally transports her to a new world. 'This moving memoir made me cry' - "The New York Times."


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Cornerstone
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9780099537649



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Bittersweet memoir of what it was like to grow up in the Soviet Union in the 70s. The main focus is on the author's mother as a metonymy for all of Russia: having started full of idealism, it pulled itself through forced industrialisation and a gruesome war, ending up hard and unforgiving. The author pries herself loose from the control of her motherland and her mother, only to seek to reconnect once she has a daughter of her own. The book gave me a better understanding of what it must have been like to grow up in Russia under communism and the 'vranyo' mentality like a soul-killing geal of pretend. Angela's Ashes it ain't (as a blurb on the back cover claims), because it lacks that book's pathos. Instead, it offers plenty of sharp observations about how human beings can survive and indeed function in a totalitarian state.

Also by Elena Gorokhova