Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories
by Deborah Ellis
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008
$14.95, 169 pp, ages 14+
The author of this remarkable collection of short stories has traveled the world talking with children and hearing their stories. Some of these children live in unbelievable poverty, while others are innocent victims of a war or family abuse. For the unfortunate few it is just the way life happens, and for others it is bad choices.
Ramon, a teenage drug dealer, does what he must to support his family. In a touching scene Ramon witnesses a moment of pure joy in his mother’s life before their world is destroyed. Liko is part of a “family” of children who live on the streets. He and his family must deal with corrupt police officers. Valerin is left in Red Square by his mother when he is just five years old. His life in an orphanage is one of loneliness and bullying from the older children. Kelly’s sister, Shannon, is coming home from rehab, again, and Kelly dreads the thought. With Shannon gone for six months life has been peaceful and “even the house around them had seemed to relax.” Brandon suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and finds out the hard way that his supposed new “friends” are only using him. Krysta is sentenced to boot camp for selling ecstasy. It is a tough place to be, both physically and emotionally. Laura is babysitting two children whose parents are alcoholics. Laura decides to deal with this situation in her own way.
The children in this book have strength, courage, endurance and a tremendous will to survive against some pretty horrendous odds that no person, let alone a child, should have to face. Their stories will definitely lead the reader to a greater understanding of what is happening to children throughout the world. It may also lead to a discovery of what is being done within one’s own community to ensure the well-being and safety of their youngest members. Small steps can circle the globe.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s September 2010 issue.