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Children's Nonfiction Modern

Out of Line

Growing Up Soviet

by (author) Tina Grimberg

Initial publish date
Oct 2007
Modern, Judaism, Europe
Recommended Age
10 to 18
Recommended Grade
5 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2007
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Although the Iron Curtain is gone, the memory of the high drama, tragedy, and comedy that was life in the Soviet Union remains. It meant endless lineups in the cold — lineups enlivened by poetry and paranoia. It meant family life lived in two small rooms, but a family life that was rich in love and laughter. It meant trying to escape all-seeing eyes, especially those of the old ladies in their babushkas who guarded every courtyard.

Tina Grimberg brings color and perception to a life we think of as gray, impersonal, and foreboding. She was born in Kiev and grew up feisty, bright, and funny in a tiny flat with her parents and her older sister. Her descriptions of life in that grand and beleaguered city are by turn hysterical and heartbreaking. When Tina turned fifteen, the government, desperate for foreign wheat, traded “undesireables” for food, and that meant that many Jewish families like Tina’s could leave. Until they could leave on the hair-raising journey that would eventually bring them to Indiana, she was publicly shamed and cut off, but she never lost her affectionate and clear-eyed view of her homeland.

This brilliant collection of memories is an unforgettable look behind what was the Iron Curtain; at a way of life that was reality for millions of people in the twentieth century.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Rabbi Tina Grimberg developed a keen interest in Judaism and became involved in the American-Jewish community after settling in Indianapolis. Though her first career was in family therapy, her love of her Jewish heritage called her to pursue rabbinical studies at the Reform Movement’s Hebrew Union College, from which she graduated in 2001. Following her rabbinic work at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, Rabbi Grimberg moved to Toronto, and since 2002 she has served as rabbi for Congregation Darchei Noam, the city’s Reconstructionist synagogue. In all her professional endeavors, Tina has been able to help others through her unique storytelling abilities, which allow the listener and reader to make sense of the past, and dream about the future. Rabbi Tina Grimberg lives in Toronto with her husband, Moshe, and their son, David. Out of Line is Rabbi Grimberg’s first published book of collected stories.

Librarian Reviews

Out of Line: Growing Up Soviet

(reviewed from unbound galleys)

Tina Grimberg’s Out of Line: Growing Up Soviet is directed at younger readers. Grimberg tells the story of the first 15 years of her life in Soviet Ukraine, until her parents decided to leave to pursue a better life, a life she ultimately took up in Canada. Her goals are to educate her readers – about Soviet history and practice, about Lenin, and about the austere and constrained existence one faced behind the Iron Curtain. Grimberg engages in a straightforward conversation with her readers, telling them of her experience in simple language and without subtlety. She is not asking the reader for much in terms of interpretive ability; rather, she sets out the terms of discussion and never deviates. Nevertheless Grimberg explores the emotions of a young girl in a simple manner, in a way that her readers will inherently understand.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2007. Vol.30 No.4.

Out of Line: Growing Up Soviet

Although the Iron Curtain is gone, the high drama, tragedy and comedy that were life in the Soviet Union remain a mystery to many Westerners. In this book, Rabbi Grimberg’s descriptions of life in grand and beleaguered Kiev are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Includes black-and-white photos.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2008.