BOOK REVIEW : ''Oksana, Behave! by Maria Kuznetsova.

Plotwise, a novel about a woman in her 20s who, when seriously inebriated, contemplates her obligations to her parents', music taste is actually quite interesting.

But Kuznetsova explores Okasana's motivations : For a story told in the first person, ''Oksana, Behave!'' is remarkably introspection free. Oksana appears detached from her own feelings and actions, as if watching herself from a distance.

IF contemporary American literature were labelled like processed food, some novels would list  Russian Mystique as an ingredient :

A hint of ground-up Chekhov, a trace of Putin, some dirty snow from the gulag, all marinated in the air of communal apartments and used to signify literary depths. Maria Kuznetsova's ''Okasana,  Behave!'' and Lydia Fitzpatrick's ''Lights all Night Long'' both contain more than bullion cube of this special artificial flavor.

In an  immigrant coming-of-age story. Oksana narrates her own life through a series of vignettes and, beginning when she is 7 and leaves Kiev, Ukraine, for Gainesville, Fla, with her family, and ending when she is in early adulthood.

Kuzenetsova's writing can take on a breezy, frenetic energy - she is good at scenes and at describing impulsive action. Oksana's sexpot grandmother, Baba, is a remarkable character, and the depiction of Oksana's job as a content producer for a media start-up is spot on and hilarious.

But the book is hampered by an awkward self-conscious sprinkling of that Russian Mystique.

Here is very drunk Oksana, at a party in Manhattan : ''Though I knew I should be moved by the raspy lyrics of the rebel Russian bard Vysotsky of the Soviet rock my parents listened to during their final years together-

Nothing makes me feel more pain than a perfect pop song after a few drinks, when I am open to the world's ecstasy and horror, dancing like I have 10 arms and 10 legs and 10 different hearts for breaking.''

The awkward Russian references sound Jerry-built in an otherwise fun, multi-limbed sentence 

One great book, and students shouldn't miss reading it. The World Students Society thanks book review author, Anya Ulinich. 


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