The Space In Between: A Story About Nina by Diane Eklund-Abolins: A Book Review

The Space In Between: A Story About Nina
Author: Diane Eklund-Abolins
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: AoE Publishing
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 392
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: Between the beginning and the end, there is the space in between.

     “...People had forgotten how to laugh; they did not even smile. When they had to go out, they always chose the shortest path, and they hurried along the streets , keeping their heads down. They did not talk, and they did not ask questions. They were all trying to disappear behind empty expressions. At home they learnt to keep the windows covered and the doors locked…”


     War, revolution and war again. This is the background against which Nina grows up, fleeing her homeland, Latvia, on three separate occasions. With family members tragically caught up in one or other of the terrible conflicts, Nina is thrown between helplessness and a need for normality, or, at least, some kind of control. Although she is surrounded by much hate and violence, there is also love, and she never relinquishes her belief that most people are essentially good.     


     My Review: The Space In Between tells the story of Nikolina, who is most often called Nina in the novel, as she and her family face danger as her homeland, Latvia, struggles for its independence. During the quest for Latvia to retain its independence, Nina must survive two world wars, and must make the decision to leave her homeland for good to find refuge in another country. As Nina struggles to survive, she faces death and hardship along the way. But as she finds darkness, she also finds love and hope.

     The beginning of the book is very confusing. It starts out with a man walking up to a building and rings a doorbell. Finding no answer, he walks in. Then it jumps to the past starting from 1906 as it describes Nina’s family. The story also is told from third person omniscient, and part of it is told in first person from Nina’s perspective. However, gradually over the course of the novel it becomes clear that the man and Nina are connected and that the jumps with the present and the future are converged together as the time in between.

     The character of Nina is at first a child that loves sticky sweets. Yet, when WWI hits Latvia, Nina and her brother are forced to flee to a safer refuge until Latvia becomes stable again. Because of WWI, Nina’s childhood has been taken away, and she becomes an emotionally-damaged person. Nina also grows into a stronger, wiser person. As she goes through events in her life, some tragic, some happy, and that most of these being out of her control, she ponders about what is the reason for these events. She also never gives up her belief that all people are essentially good.

     I also like the supporting characters. I really like her brother, Maksis, who does everything he can to support his sister. Maksis is practical and self-less. He puts his family and his sister before his own. I also like Nina’s husband, Ernest, whose unwavering love for Nina gives him hope even when he feels that all is hopeless. His love for Nina is his determination as he strives to protect her and his family. I also like Nina’s son, Andris, whose is Nina’s constant support and consolation.

     Overall, this book is about family, friendship, love and the ultimate faith in mankind. The story deals with tragedy, despair, and hopelessness, but there is also hope, faith, and light. For while bad things are in a person’s life, there is also good. The book is very well-written, and the characters are well-developed. A fun fact of this novel is that Nina is the author’s mother-in-law, and that the author, herself, appears as a character in the story. I recommend this story to those interested in eastern European history, WWI, WWII, and anyone who is looking for peace, comfort, consolation, and hope as they try to cope with the loss of a loved one or facing a period of darkness in their life.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the author's official book trailer for The Space in Between:

Comments

  1. Thank you so much, Lauralee, for your lovely review. I think that you connected particularly well with the story and the characters, and you were extremely perceptive regarding Maksis and Ernests. As you intimated, the power of good over evil is an important theme in the book - in all the years I knew Nina, not once did she have anything negative to say about either Germans or Russians. As far as she was concerned, all the devastation and heartbreak were caused by politics, not by any particular nationality or group of people.

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