Dream Land by Lily Hyde

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Dream Land by Lily Hyde

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: An evocative story about the return of the Tatars to their Crimean homeland after perestroika. Heartbreaking, hopeful and perceptive, it will add to a child's understanding of the eastern nations that made up the Soviet bloc, and the tensions that still exist.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Walker
ISBN: 1406307653

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Ever since she can remember, Safi's family have aspired to return home to the Crimea. Grandfather has told his stories of the Tatar homeland so many times that Safi knows them by heart. But she never tires of the telling. But when the dream finally comes true, and Safi's family has exchanged its sunny, happy Uzbek home for an impoverished, damp and squalid camp in a Crimea full of people who dislike them, it seems as though the dream is more of a nightmare. Will they ever make a home there? Have a happy life there? Be accepted there?

To Safi, it doesn't seem likely.

The history of the Crimean Tatars is not a familiar one to many Western children - or to many Western adults for that matter. The diaspora began under the Russian Empire in the eighteenth century and ended, brutally, at the end of World War II, when Stalin forcibly deported the remaining population to Central Asia - largely to Uzbekistan. Since perestroika and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet bloc, about a quarter of million Tatars have returned to their homeland. And it's not been easy. Often unwelcome to those living there, inability to agree on aims for a nationalist movement, resentment from its younger generation, and a woeful post-Soviet economic situation have all contributed to the difficulties the Tatars face in righting historical injustices.

We can teach all this in a history lesson - although we should, and we don't - but no history lesson can adequately tell a story like this. In Dream Land, Lily Hyde has constructed a compelling and heartbreaking narrative from a composite of countless interviews and conversations with countless Crimean Tatar families. Safi is a fictional character, but she's utterly credible and wonderfully sympathetic. The tensions within her family are equally affecting - Grandfather, whose determination to return has been the focus of an entire life; Father, whose determination to make it work now allows him to ride roughshod over his family's comfort; older brother Lutfi, who is radicalised by the difficulties they face.

It's moving and, at times, horribly sad. But amidst the hardships and frustrations there are moments of great hope and simple human kindness. While the events are momentous, the emotional landscape is completely familiar - and that is exactly the way to teach history and politics through fiction.

I loved this book!

My thanks to the nice people at Walker for sending the book.

A child's eye view of displacement is also a theme in The Night of the Burning by Linda Press Wulf and Oranges in No Man's Land by Elizabeth Laird.

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Buy Dream Land by Lily Hyde at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dream Land by Lily Hyde at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dream Land by Lily Hyde at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dream Land by Lily Hyde at Amazon.com.


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