Just follow the rules and everything will be all right. That's what Daria Gordon tells her two young daughters--and herself--when her family is snatched from their home in 1930s Odessa, Ukraine, and taken to a Siberian work camp. But conditions at the camp are appalling, and Daria is forced to make impossible choices to survive. Daria's granddaughter, Natasha, a brilliant mathematician, has always heard a similar refrain: work hard and you will be rewarded. But when she's denied a place at university because she is Jewish, Natasha begins to make different and potentially dangerous choices. In her sweeping debut novel, The Nesting Dolls, Alina Adams braids together the stories of five generations of strong women, extending all the way to Daria's great-great-granddaughter, Zoe, in present-day Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
Like her grandmothers, Zoe has heard a particular set of messages her entire life: work hard, don't shame the family, find a nice Russian Jewish boy to marry. While she's helping plan her grandparents' anniversary party, Zoe meets Alex, an entrepreneur who seems to check all her family's boxes. But the more she gets to know Alex, the more Zoe wonders if he's really right for her--and the more she wonders whether she'll find happiness by following everyone else's rules. Bittersweet, richly detailed and often wryly entertaining, The Nesting Dolls is a compelling family saga, a commentary on the sacrifices women make for their loved ones and an incisive glimpse into the effects of the Soviet state on its citizens' lives. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams