3 out of 5 stars
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Anya by Dennis K. Hausker is the story of a young Russian girl who leaves her home country and travels to the United States to study. As the book progresses, Anya meets Peter, a young student from a wealthy family, and strikes up a conversation one day that sets in motion a relationship that spans years. Peter, who comes from a very generous home, spends time helping the young girl and her mother, who is seriously ill. Anya soon becomes a part of the family. With Peter completely in love with her and Anya on the fence about her feelings, their relationship soon becomes a tenuous one fraught with challenges, and it seems like their young romance may be over even before it even begins.
The first positive aspect of this book is that it is well-written grammatically; I found only a single error. It was professionally edited. Also, the relationship between the main characters shows the amount of work that needs to go into a long-term relationship. I think the author perfectly captures this. Going back to the characters, I enjoyed how the author ensured that there were not too many. I liked how the other characters, aside from the main characters, seemed to be voices of reason and offered better judgment throughout the book. For example, Christy shares her observation with Peter, and then after a few double dates, he develops some concerns about his relationship with Anya, which seems to get worse with each date. He shares his fears with Bob, and Bob tries to offer better explanations.
Nevertheless, my reading experience with this book was negatively impacted due to certain negative aspects. First, it contained multiple instances of demeaning comments toward women. For instance, the first example was in Chapter 1, "Think of those coeds as a garden of flowers to be harvested. They want to be harvested." It portrayed women as objects to be exploited. In Chapter 15, there was a disturbing remark about marriage, stating that "this marriage isn't going the way I anticipated, but at least I'll have gotten a couple of kids out of her." These recurring negative statements about women were deeply troubling, especially in today's era when gender equality is a significant focus. Furthermore, the relationship between the main characters was at best a cautionary tale for readers, showcasing toxicity from the beginning with Anya being influenced by Peter's generosity to their communication breakdown and emotional turmoil. While the relationship did improve towards the end, the overall development of the story left much to be desired.
Although the characters were properly presented, I had a bit of an issue with one, Kiala. I found it difficult to follow. Then I noticed that there was no real explanation for why Anya made the decision between Jeff and Peter. I noticed a lack of depth in her relationship with Kiala, which I perceived as having romantic undertones. This was also not properly developed in depth.
Owing to the negative aspects mentioned above and the fact that I felt uncomfortable some of the time, I would give this book a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. I didn't rate it lower because of the positive sides of the book. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy romance books.
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