This is one of the best books that I have ever read and Ksenia Anske is one of my favourite authors. Irkadura is a dark, gritty tale of a young girl who fights to survive life despite experiencing emotional and physical abuse. Irina is a teenager in Soviet Russia. Pregnant and homeless, she stumbles upon the ballet theatre and tries to find work there. This is where she meets Pavlik, a sweet boy who she can’t help but fall in love with, but he’s unable to love her back. He’s in love with another male ballerina who Irina sees as a colourful butterfly. Irina sees things that other people do not see – the creatures that they really are. But she can’t talk. She hasn’t spoken since she was two years old. Her deepest struggle is finding her own voice.
I thought her friendship with Pavlik was amazing. He finds a way to care for her and he even agrees to marry her to keep her safe. He’s the friend she’s always needed and while their love can’t be romantic, it’s a genuine love indeed. But there is a villain who’s out to get Irina for leaving him – and he’ll stop at nothing to get her back no matter who he hurts on the way. This story is not for the faint of heart. You will need tissues, especially at the end of the book. I’ve never fully cried when reading a book before, but the final paragraph caused me to cry very much. The author mentioned that she needed to write this book and I had a feeling that her past experience is very close to this story.
It’s one of those stories that stays with you forever. It’s so real, so gritty, and you will cheer for the good characters until the very end. Some characters will surprise you – in a good way. You’ll come to care for all of them. It shows how important it is that we care about mental health and provide resources to help people who are suffering from deep trauma and emotional pain. One day I will read this beautiful book again. I look forward to that time.
Here’s the Amazon link to buy Irkadura: