Winterland: A Novel

Winterland: A Novel


As a child, Anya uses gymnastics to escape the stark, wavering darkness and cold of her remote Siberian outpost. Talented and driven, she is selected for a grueling gymnastics school and charged with becoming an honor to Russia. As the years pass, Anya’s life of competitive gymnastics takes her further and further away from her father and her home, but she is committed to the task she’s been given–knowing she must somehow rectify for her family the unexplained disappearance of her mother years prior. Anya suffers setbacks and defeats, but she also steadily rises in status. Eventually, the Olympics are on the line–the ultimate goal for a girl like Anya, as well as her coach. Losing is not an option.

The breathless recounting of competitions and rivalries make Winterland gripping, but it’s the chapters that focus on Anya’s elderly neighbor Vera that give this novel the most emotional depth. Vera spent years in a labor camp, and her experiences there–as well as her memories of what led to the confinement and how she survived–are wrenchingly recounted. The brutal landscape and the gracefully rendered, even more, brutal lives of Anya, Vera, and others make Winterland a perfect winter read.

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