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THE CIRCLES OF LIFE
By Anna Aizic

I came across Circles of Life after happening upon an interview with the author, Anna Aizic on blog “Pebble In The Still Waters.” I was immediately gripped by Aizic’s life, as well as her profound declaration that what hurts her the most in life is ignorance. I knew I had to purchase her book and I am so thankful I did!

Peppered with tidbits of Russian history (from an insider’s glimpse of communist era Russia to a bystander’s account of the Yom Kippur War) as well as humor (a family cat named Stalin — how perfect!) Aizic keeps the reader hooked throughout her family’s journey out of Odessa to Israel and, ultimately, to the United States.

Sibling rivalry crops up every now and again — Aizic painstakingly admits to envying her older sister, a dynamic to which many readers (myself included!) can relate. As do, of all things, ghosts from her grandfather’s house. There is an eeriness to some of Aizic’s words that reads like an engaging mystery novel.

Amidst beautiful imager of Odessa, Crimea, Moscow, and beyond, Aizic paints a beautiful picture of her early childhood, paving a beautifully prosaic path towards her family’s freedom from Russia and the life she was able to establish for herself in America.

Readers will love Aizic’s account of her astounding grandfather, Zeida, an economics professor and community leader adored by his students and ardently devoted to Zionism. And who can deny the sheer bravery Aizic’s family displayed in clinging to their belifs, their morals, and to each other. An excerpt beautifully portrays Aizic’s and her family’s resolve: “stripped of all possessions, keeping nothing but their pride and love for freedom, facing harassment, ridicule, impoverishment and treated as thought we ought to vanish into the Gulags of Sibera.”

I was astonished by her father’s ingenious strategies of currying favor with bureaucrats by sewing Sobel mink hats. (Sadly, we learn of her father’s fate all too soon in the first quarter of the book. Though readers who hang on until the end will experience a type of justice!) Unique quirks and flourishes like these endear the reader to each character portrayed in this autobiographical saga — one that spans countries, generations, and belief systems.

Illness also rears its ugly head throughout Aizic’s story. Uncannily, after she meets her Aunt Ida and learns of the latter’s breast cancer, Aizic herself receives the same diagnosis months later. This prompts her to ask the question most readers will have upon reaching this point in the tale: “Coincidence…or another circle of Life?”

Her self-reinvention and persistent hope in the face of mounds of adversity was an inspiration to me. I was so tickled by her joining the Amazon Girls to ride motorcycles across the Golden Gate Bridge from Los Angeles to San Francisco — despite her physical suffering!

Aizic took me along on a fast-paced, engaging ride through the history of her family, with more information peeking out through memorable scenes up to the very final chapter. Harrowing at turns, Aizic’s energy and vivacity enables the reader to keep reading at each turn. As you read each page, all the components of Aizic’s individual upbringing, alongside her family’s, begin to fit together — and, as she herself writes, “the final pattern begins to make some sense as all the piece are somehow connected by an invisible tapestry of glue.”

I highly recommend Circles of Life for anyone of Jewish descent, anyone from a family riddled with cancer or another terminal illness, or anyone looking for a true family history that ropes you into its roots. Upon putting the book down, I almost felt as if I were a part of her family!

Book Review by Catherine G.

Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Circles Of Life (May 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692221735
ISBN-13: 978-0692221730
Product Dimensions: 
5 x 0.5 x 8 inches

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