September 4, 2009

Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles Review


Typically when I finish a book, I can’t help but feel somewhat proud as if I have accomplished something. It is more rare for me to come to the end of the book longing for more—just a few chapters, pages, anything! I definitely felt that I became so invested in the characters and story of Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles that I was bummed to finish it.

The book begins with Daria (who has a degree in Engineering) landing a dream job (secretary at a shipping company): amazing pay, she can speak English all day, and she will get exposure to the luxuries of the world which are very scarce (expensive) in Odessa. The only catch is that her boss makes it clear that sleeping with him is a job requirement. The aftereffects of Communism hit the Odessan economy hard, and bribery, extortion and poverty are part of everyday life. Daria navigates these challenges of commerce expertly, and finds that she loves the security her job offers. Determined to stall her boss until she can come up with a way to dissuade him, Daria makes some questionable moral moves which end up changing her life.

For plot reasons I won’t disclose, Daria ends up in America. At this point the story kind of hit a stalemate, losing a lot of its grip, and when Charles finally tied the plot up, some of the major storylines seemed unresolved. It was an abrupt ending as if the author had simply ran out of steam, and yet kudos to Charles for making me care so much about a group of fictional people. They are endearing to say the least. Charles has done an amazing job at making them feel authentic. As in I may not like something that Daria did, but I understood why she did it. The book is also a smart yet entertaining look at the sad ramifications of an economic collapse and the lengths which some will go to secure their own American dream. I am definitely recommending this one.

3 comments:

  1. I was wondering about this one. Yours is the first review I've read, so thanks Sara.

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  2. Great review. This one looks interesting.

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  3. Thanks for the comments, I was a little wary at first, but it surprised me.

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