Life in Ukraine has not been easy over the last century. Stalin caused the starvation deaths of millions as all their produce and wheat was shipped to Russia. Now once again there is turmoil. This book written for the middle school crowd is set in the Ukraine during World War II. A young Jewish girl, Kalinka, has managed to evade the German soldiers once, but now must do so again. She travels by her wits to the steppe from her city where all her family has disappeared and ends up on a wild life reserve, Askania-Nova.
It is there that she finds help from the caretaker, Max, of the reserve as well as the last of the wild horses.
Przewalski's Horses are the last truly wild horse which can trace its origin to thousands of years ago. They are now on an extermination list so that Hitler can have his so called pure Aryan and animal life society. Max manages to help Kalinka and the last breeding pair of horses escape the Germans before losing his life. Kalinka has bonded with the horses and that relationship is both beautiful and other worldly. Their journey and survival is a bit like an Indiana Jones movie.
I am sure that the British author, Phillip Kerr, wrote this book not knowing that it would be published during another time of turmoil for this part of the world. It is hard for me to watch another world leader abusing his power in an attempt to prop up his image and ego.