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Katusha Tymoshenko, a 16-year-old Ukrainian school girl, must grow up in hurry when she and her family are caught up in Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941. As the Panzers get closer, the everyday concerns of work and family are replaced by concerns of national identity, political expediency, and survival.
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As the German forces bear down on Kiev, Katusha's life is further complicated by the arrival of her long lost Uncle Taras, whose presence promises both danger and protection. Fear of the Nazis takes a back seat, when they discover that Taras is a target of Soviet state security.
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The Germans occupy Kiev, and the average person asks the question: Will they be as bad as the Communist? Then the Nazis begin slaughtering Ukraine's Jewish population at the ravine of Babi Yar, and Katusha realizes that they are all in danger.
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Katusha and her family flee to the forest, and under Uncle Taras' leadership, they began a life of simple neutrality. But the Germans are committed to a program of enslavement or death, and Katusha realizes that a life of indifference is impossible.
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Katusha and her band take the path of resistance, attacking German supply columns to steal food and weapons. In doing so, the teenage guerilla also discovers that the path of defiance requires what she fears the most: The taking of someone's life.
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Katusha, Uncle Taras, and her group officially join a Soviet Partisan unit and take part in a major attack: destroying a strategic bridge and the German armament train heading for it. This event puts Katusha on a path of unknown adventure and danger, and may forever brand her as a hero, or exile.
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Following the events of Book One, Katusha, and her adopted sister Milla join the Red Army and are sent to tank school. Trained to operate the mighty T-34, Katusha fights from countryside to cities, but as in any way there is always a steep price to for victory, and Katusha must deal with her own devastating personal loss. This is a story of courage, survival and family; of self-sacrifice, betrayal, brutality, and suffering; it is a tale told against the backdrop of the bloodiest conflict in human history: the 1941-1945 war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Seen through the eyes of a Ukrainian teenage girl, KATUSHA is not only a coming-of-age story, but a carefully researched depiction of one of the most turbulent and important periods of the twentieth century."
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