This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!
You Are One of Them, Elliot Holt
— Thanks for your patience during the busy holiday season! The last two 50Nifty posts are coming up (this one and another tomorrow)!—
I was very engaged with this novel for the first third as it gave the backstory of two American girls growing up in D.C. in the Cold War era. The typical grade-school drama mixed with a child’s understanding of the political climate was an interesting setup. They both write letters to Yuri Andropov and Jennifer (loosely based on the real-life Samantha Smith) and her family is invited to Russia for a tour. After returning they mysteriously die in a plane crash, and Sarah (the other friend) is left behind to work out the mysteries and get on with her life in the meantime.
Just before graduating from college, Sarah receives a letter from a woman in Russia claiming to have been friends with Jennifer during her trip to Russia and offering a clue that she may still be alive. Sarah takes an extended trip to Russia to find the truth, and sadly, this is when the book lost me. I was bored with the lack of plot and not even my wanderlust could redeem it for me. I finished in part because it was an easy read, and while I did like the ending, I wasn’t a huge fan of the book overall.
As most of the novel took place in Russia, I didn’t think it was a great read for the 50Nifty list. I did like the fact that the part in Washington D.C. was from a child’s perspective, but I would have liked more about the people and the land there (and maybe even the political landscape) and less about Russia.