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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Historical / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:210
  • Paperback ISBN:9780995893429

The Photograph

by Kat Karpenko

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Ukraine 1928. Stalin has risen to power and started to implement plans that will change the country forever. Inspired by a family photo, 'The Photograph' centers on a farewell party and a family divided. There are those who will stay, and those who will leave. What happens to those who stay is written in the pages of history as the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Genocide, or the Terror-Famine.

Ukraine 1928. Stalin has risen to power and started to implement plans that will change the country forever. Inspired by a family photo, 'The Photograph' centers on a farewell party and a family divided. There are those who will stay, and those who will leave. What happens to those who stay is written in the pages of history as the Holodomor, the Terror-Famine orchestrated by Stalin, responsible for the loss of millions of lives. The Holodomor was one of the worst genocides in global history. In this historically accurate novel, the reader will see a family facing events on the ground level. Some members saw the impending doom, others were unprepared, undecided, or unmovable for too long. Experiencing the lives of victims and survivors during these dramatic times goes beyond the history books.

The following is a 5-star review from Readers' Favorite:

Reviewed By Deborah Lloyd for Readers’ Favorite

Kat Karpenko is a Canadian of Ukrainian descent and she dedicates her book, The Photograph, to her grandparents. Nicholai and Juliana Karpenko had the foresight and courage to leave their prosperous farm and their beloved family members to protect their children. A lovely photograph of the extended family was taken at a farewell party in their honor. This photograph graces the beginning of the book and brings their story to life. Nicholai saw how Stalin’s authoritarian Five-Year Plan would threaten their livelihood, as his military confiscated farms, its animals, and other personal property. Under the plan, collectivization and grain quotas became more and more difficult each year. Although Nicholai tried to persuade his siblings and families to emigrate to Canada, only several agreed to consider this option. As Stalin’s directives continued, a horrific famine called the Holodomor was created. The remaining Karpenko family members’ attempts to survive during this period are remarkable, but not always successful.

This book is based on historical facts, and the author notes the characters and storyline are fictional. This account will affect every reader as she crafts realistic characters with real emotions and physical struggles during a time of unfathomable circumstances. The book is divided into three sections – the emigration of Nicholai’s family; the family who stayed, from 1929-1931; the Holodomor during 1932-1933. Her story is compelling and deeply moving. The Photograph written by Kat Karpenko is an unforgettable book. It is both heartwarming and heartrending while imparting important historical information about this terrible period of time when millions of Ukrainians died. Truly memorable.

About the author
Kat Karpenko has had a varied writing career as a journalist, technical writer, and author of short stories as well as her first historical novel 'Emma's Ghost.' Of Ukrainian descent, she was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada but spent most of her life in Nova Scotia where she was employed in various administrative capacities at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Now retired, she shares her time between Canada and Mexico and devotes her energy to creative writing bringing to life researched historical events.

Book Reviews

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Online Book Club Review Review of The Photograph Post by Andrada Madalina » 17 Feb 2023, 17:37 [Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Photograph" by Kat Karpenko.] Book Cover 5 out of 5 stars Share This Review The Photograph by Kat Karpenko is a historical fiction about unity and familiar ties. It presents a family's journey after their uprooting from their homeland due to communist propaganda. Also, the novel illustrates themes such as family life, politics, corruption, and survival. Briefly, this historical fiction focuses on Nicholai Karpenko, an Ukrainian farmer forced to leave Kiev due to the regime established by Stalin. After he was interrogated by a Russian officer, Nicholai made the necessary preparations for the journey to Canada together with his wife, Juliana, and their three children: Arkady, Vera, and Tamara. Also, the story illustrates the challenges they faced after they left Ukraine and the repercussions of Stalin's plan for collectivization. I liked the novel's fluid writing style, and I appreciated the relevance of the themes addressed by the author for the socio-political reality described. I enjoyed the blending of history and adventure, and I empathized with the characters' inner struggles. For instance, I was intrigued by the adventures of the Karpenko family in Budapest, and the horrifying descriptions of starvation in the village left me speechless. Also, I loved that Kat Karpenko focused on those left behind in Kiev and understood Nicholai's worries because he failed to convince them to leave Ukraine. Another positive aspect of this book was the character development. I loved the close family relationships illustrated by the author, especially Nicholai's devotion to his wife and children, always highlighted by ensuring their protection. Also, I liked the side story of Vera and Alexi. For example, I empathized with their separation and the hope of reunion, and I admired Alexi's determination in keeping his promise. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars because it carried me through all the emotional states, from compassion for those affected by Bolshevism to the joy of reunion. I enjoyed the parallel plots that kept me in suspense until the end, and I appreciated the historical accuracy of the facts in Ukraine during Stalin's policies. I empathized with the villagers' madness and despair caused by the famine, and the horror of death illustrated in this captivating tale shocked me. Also, The Photograph was professionally edited. I discovered three minor punctuation errors, but they did not influence my reading experience. I recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction, especially those interested in discovering more about the Holodomor. It is perfect for people eager to read about a fight for survival and an emotional story about loyalty and compassion. Also, The Photograph is suitable for a large audience because it has very minor profanity and no erotic content. Read more
The Photograph The Photograph is a remarkable story of a family caught in a Bolshevik domination resulting in the Ukrainian genocide of which, I sadly confess, I had no previous knowledge. It chronicles the lives of a family divided by their decisions about how to survive the onslaught. Kat Karpenko, the granddaughter of the real Nicholai and Juliana who escaped to Canada, dedicates the book to their courage and foresight. I found her to be a skilled and evocative writer. Historically accurate and compelling to read, The Photograph will inform, amaze and move you to tears. Don’t miss it! Jude Jackson, Author of Chasing Glitter Read more
Remarkably readable for hard history A family photograph set author, Kat Karpenko, on a journey of discovery and what horror she uncovered. Her novel tells of a family dealing with circumstances leading to the Holodomor, the famine-genocide Stalin’s rule brought to Ukraine. The character, Nicholai, based on her grandfather, tries to persuade family members to leave Ukraine as he is about to do. Some are blind to the future he sees so clearly. The story of his escape with wife and family, is followed by the dire conditions for those left behind. Survivor guilt and remorse can silence first generation immigrants from countries torn by such horrors. Telling the truth of what happened nevertheless remains a duty, one Kat Karpenko, of the second generation, achieves with a remarkably readable historical tale. Read more