In one of Siberia’s formerly closed cities, Alexandra Pavlova, an unemployed microbiologist, struggles to save her daughter’s life. When she turns to Vladimir, her oldest friend, for help, she’s drawn into Russia’s underworld. His business dealings with the Iranians come to the attention of Sergei Borisov, an FSB (formerly the KGB) agent. Alexandra finds herself joining forces with Sergei to stop the export of a deadly virus in a race to save both her daughter and the world
About Saving Hope
Saving Hope has been my second read this year, a book I downloaded from Netgalley. The book took me all the way to Siberia. Set in the times after the fall of the Soviet Union. I was eager to read more about a country I have not read much about in the recent past. This is a book about a woman named Alexandria, married to a man named Yuri who has an ailing daughter named Nadezhda. Nadezhda means Hope in Russian.
My favourite character was Alexandria. She was the protagonist of the book. I liked her personality and that she was not easily intimidated by the feared KGB agents and she took her time in making major decisions that affected her and her daughter’s life.
Alexandria struggles to see to it that Hope gets better. However, the health system is a broken one and she struggles to get her daughter out of the country to get better treatment.
The healthcare system in Siberia was far from perfect. I could relate to this because we have a similar broken system in Kenya where healthcare is expensive and out of the reach of the common man. Drugs and equipment are also not readily available in public hospitals.
Ailing patients keep getting fundraisers to enable them to get treatment abroad or locally. This basically means something in the system is not working. This is what Alexandria had to face because the hospital in Siberia first did not have drugs and she had to get a specialized doctor to treat her daughter.
My least favourite character was Vladimir. Vladimir was both Yuri and Alexandria’s friend since childhood. He used unconventional means to demonstrate his love for Alexandria. I also feel that most of the circumstances that Alexandria was facing were because of him.
Motherhood and the extent to which a mother can go to protect and care for her child was demonstrated by Alexandria. I liked how emotionally intelligent she was and had to read people’s moods to calculate her next cause of action.
The story was compelling. I think I was drawn to it because I am a mum and could relate to having a sick child. The portrayal of Soviet Union came clearly. It was described as a cold place with the KGB and the American Secret Service is actively involved in the story. The manufacture of a virus also comes out as the main theme of the plot, however, we do not get to see the real creation of the viruses.
What fascinated me was the 900 days of the blockade that was mentioned in passing. This is one unique take away from the book. Reading online, it is described as a time of starvation and horror for the Soviets. Russia’s capital St. Petersburg experienced the Nazi blockade during World War II. At the time St. Petersburg was known as Leningrad.
Overall a well-written book that was all about saving Hope in a number of ways: Alexandria having the hope (Nadezhda) to save the life of her child and having the hope of saving a country from the distribution of a virus.