Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov

I really can’t thank TLC Booktours enough for thinking of me when looking for reviewers for this book. What a true gem this book was…a rare find. I had a feeling I would enjoy Ivan and Misha based on the cover and the title alone. I’m a sucker for a good cover and I have always adored Russian names. And if you DO adore Russian names, then this is a book for you. But it’s a book for you for many other reasons as well.

This book is a collection of short stories that work their way into somewhat of a novel. The stories all focus on the same characters at different points in their lives and bring everything together to paint a larger picture. Ivan and Misha are brothers, twins. They traveled over seas from Russia with their father at a young age and have known most of their lives to exist in New York. Their father holds on to his Russian roots while Ivan and Misha embrace their new culture. What doesn’t change is the brothers’ bond. A bond even more intense than what’s normally shared between brothers.

Misha’s sexuality is straight forward…he’s gay. While Ivan’s sexuality is sort of open to what he’s in the mood for at the time. Ivan lives with bipolar disorder and is often manic going days without sleep and coming up with elaborate plans. The stories that we here are really “day in the life” stories, focusing on Misha’s relationship with his partner, his partner’s past relationships, Ivan’s bipolar disorder, their father’s history and time in America and the bond that all of the above share.

From an LGBT point of view, this book is really gorgeous. It touches on sensitive subjects…relationships with family, AIDS, and acceptance…but I never looked at the book as specifically lgbt. Which I really loved. So many gay books overdo the gay! This one didn’t at all. It was simply part of who these people were and that’s that. And I think that’s how it should be.

I have to say the book was gutwrenching at times. Dealing with some of the above topics, you would imagine it would be. The ending of the first story particularly was upsetting. And ending that I won’t give away here. I’ll let you discover it for yourself. But Alenyikov’s (I love his last name) writing is close to poetry. But not in that hard to read way…just in that he captures moments so perfectly with so few words.

Michael Alenyikov has graciously offered up a signed copy of this book to one lucky person (living in the US or Canada only unfortunately). Just let me know if you’d like a copy and I’ll pick a winner in a week and send the name on to Mr. Alenyikov.  Whether you win a copy or not, I hope you read this one…I don’t bias my reviews based on the fact that they were offered for review. I truly did love this one and would love to hear more of Ivan and Misha’s stories.

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9 Responses

  1. Sold! I love Russian names too: the nickname for Ivan is Vanya. So cute. 😀

    My library doesn’t have a copy (boo!), so I’ll throw my hat in the ring for the giveaway.

  2. This sounds really good, Chris. Great review!

  3. I was wondering how the reviewers would take to the ending of the first story. It’s a tough one. But I’m glad to see that I won’t be alone in my love of this book. My review comes up towards the end of next week. It will be just as positive. I think this one is going to end up one of my favorite reads for 2011.

  4. Okay, I will definitely be reading this one! Throw my name in the hat, but rest assured that I’ll be reading it whether I win or not. 🙂

    You really are a freakin’ reading machine these days, my dear!

  5. I’m reviewing this one too. I can’t wait to read it!

  6. Sounds great Chris, I’m so glad you loved it 😀 I’d put my name in, but quite honestly I’m too much of a wimp when it comes to gut wrenching stories..do the words puddle on the floor say enough 😀 Wonderful review

  7. I studied Soviet politics in college and I love all the Russian names too. 🙂

    I’m so glad you decided to read this book – it sounds like it was the perfect book for you. Thanks for being on the tour Chris! I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  8. Well damn. I said no to this one because I was a bit overwhelmed with review books at the time! Sounds like I really missed out!

  9. I’m typing of my review of this book now. It seems like we’re pretty much on the same page in terms of liking this book I was going to ask if you’ve read a couple other books I think you might like, but I’m just going to go bug you on twitter.

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