Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review: Tales Of Priut Almus by Robert Belenky Ph.D.

Thirteen-year-old Serogia was thrown out of his house by his drunken mother after his father died. Eleven-year-old Anya doesn't have many friends and is always sad; when she looks in the mirror she sees an ugly girl. Her ten-year-old sister Sashinka is shy, tough and fun loving. Their only living relative is their drunken father.

These are just three of the children who were living at Priut Almus, a children's shelter in St. Petersburg, Russia, when author Robert Belenky began his visits in 1998. He returned many times during the next ten years. In Tales of Priut Almus he presents his interviews with children and staff as he participates in this humane and innovative shelter unusual in that it focused on preparing children to create and live in a democracy. Finally, we meet Almus' founding director, enigmatic man of the theater, Mikhail Markarievich, who provided the courageous vision.

The fifth in a series of books focusing on raising children whose lives have not been easy, Tales of Priut Almus describes how this home has become a monument to the spirited and humane ways to raise children who are in need. Priut Almus is a model of what may be possible for the United States in the realm of education and child care.

Received from the publicist for review.

This was an interesting book written in an interesting journal type format and printed in a nice font. The stories themselves were really rather depressing. Even the portraits of the children were sad. The History of Priut Almus as the final section of the book was enlightening, but no more cheerful.

This one gets three stars. While it was well written, in an interesting manner, the stories just had a pervasive sense of darkness and depression. I found it more of a downer than hopeful and uplifting.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


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