Kai Aareleid „Burning Cities“

“Sometimes old memories come back and knock the wind out of you.”

That is also the case for Tiina, who goes back to Tartu – her city of birth – and starts reminiscing on the bittersweet story of her childhood in the Soviet times.

The book starts out mysteriously, leading the reader to believe this story isn’t a simple one. There is a tragedy impending, one that the reader doesn’t know about yet. The book slowly gives out hints, one of them being the title of the book.

At first we are introduced to Liisi and Peeter Unger – Tiina’s parents. Their behavior,  choices and mistakes are all reflected back in the way Tiina thinks and acts. Her growing pains are the majority of the book and we see her mature almost too fast which was common in that time period.

There’s always a little bit of tension in every chapter, leaving the reader wanting more. The book went quite fast because the pacing is great and short chapters are easy to read. My favorite part was the way the puzzle pieces slowly start to fit together and the reader can almost certainly guess what the upcoming tragedy is, even before it happens.

I definitely recommend reading this story to anyone who is curious about the Soviet time period. Being the child of Soviet parents, I could draw parallels to my own relatives’ experiences and definitely have a better understanding why their generation behaves the way they do. Apart from that, even if the themes are a bit heavier, it is also a very moving book, one that you won’t be able to forget so easily. 


Peter Owen Publishers, 2018

Kristina Olivia Kruus

Tallinna Keskraamatukogu 

võõrkeelse kirjanduse osakonna praktikant

Kai Aareleid “Burning Cities” in e-catalogue ESTER

Kai Aareleid “Burning Cities” in e-library OverDrive

In Estonian: Kai Aareleid “Linnade põletamine” e-kataloogis ESTER

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