Booking It: Reviewing "One Day..."

Make sure you visit Jessica's Booking It posts over at lifeasmom.com

I finally stuck with my reading schedule for September and finished the book I chose for the month, One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I'm not sure why I decided to put this book on my reading list back in January - other than the fact that it had been on my bookshelf since high school without being read - but I'm glad I did. In the end it wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I actually liked reading it and it was a relatively quick read.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Now, I'm going to admit something here that is going to make me seem dumber than dirt. However, I'm all about staying truthful on here and if you don't know me in real life, I don't want to run into you someday and you walk away saying, "Boy, she was nothing like that on her blog!" So...here I go. Until I read the intro to the book, I didn't realize the whole book was about one day - I know! Did I not READ the TITLE?!?! I promise that I'm usually a lot sharper than that, but this time I totally missed it. Sad, but true. So once I realized it was covering only one day, I quickly pulled out an old habit, flipped to the back of the book, realized Ivan...oh, but in case you haven't read it, I'd better not say what Ivan does or does not do. You, however, are free to flip to the back of the book and find out! :-)

So since I'm not supposed to reveal the ending, I'm going to share two passages that stood out to me...

On Food (pg. 36):
He decided he was half an ounce short as he broke the bread in two. One half he stuck into a little clean pocket he'd sewn under his jacket (at the factory they make jackets for prisoners without pockets). The other half, which he'd saved by going without at breakfast, he considered eating on the spot. But food gulped down is no food at all; it's wasted; it gives you no feeling of fullness. [...] And so, still clutching the hunk of bread, he drew his feet out of his valenki, deftly leaving inside them his foot rags and spoon, crawled barefoot up to his bunk, widened a little hole in the mattress, and there amidst the sawdust, concealed his half-ration. He pulled off his hat, drew out of it a needle and thread (hidden deeply, for they fingered the hats when they frisked you; once a guard had pricked his finger and almost broken Shukhov's skull in his rage). Stitch, stitch, stitch, and the little tear in the mattress was mended, with the bread concealed under it. Meanwhile the sugar in his mouth had melted. Every nerve was strained to the breaking point. At any moment the roster guard would begin shouting at the door. Shukhov's fingers worked fast but his mind, planning the next move, worked faster.

On Freedom (pgs. 155 - 156):
Shukhov gazed at the ceiling in silence. Now he didn't know either whether he wanted freedom or not. At first he'd longed for it. Every night he'd counted the days of his stretch - how many had passed, how many were coming. And then he'd grown bored with counting. And then it became clear that men like him wouldn't ever be allowed to return home, that they'd be exiled. And whether his life would be any better there than here - who could tell? Freedom meant one thing to him - home. But they wouldn't let him go home.

I can't even begin to imagine the coldness and the harshness of life in the camp in Siberia. Although One Day is fiction, the author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, spent over eight years in a camp (plus three more in exile). It didn't matter if you were guilty, if you were innocent, if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if you just looked at someone off kilter - life was harsh for all in the camps. One Day caused me to do two things:

1) Thank the Lord I was born in America and promise myself I would not stand by and watch our country slowly give up the freedoms our Founding Fathers sought to keep safe for future generations.

2) Reminded me that there are still people being put into labor camps and prisons around the world - innocent men and women who are being charged with nothing more than following Christ. May we remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ on  November 14 (the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church) and every other day!

So, while it's a sobering book, I would highly recommend it for your reading list. Head on over to LifeasMOM for more Booking It link ups.

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  1. I really need to set aside more time to read I have so many books that I want to read

  2. I've not ever heard of this book. But now I'm dying to know what happens at the end of the day!!! I'll have to pick it up.

    DON'T TELL ME ;)

  3. We had to read this book when I was in high school, and I remember what happens at the end. But I won't say!

    Maybe I ought to go back and reread this book for both of your reasons. It is so easy to take for granted that we live in the United States, and so many people are imprisoned around the world for "nothing more than following Christ." Those are things we (I) need to be reminded of. Thanks!

  4. You make me laugh! The "day thing" didn't register with me until you pointed that out. And, yes, I flip to the back of the book, too! LOL


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