Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Meredith and Nina have never been close to their beautiful cold Russian mother. It's only after their father's death, when the girls both try to fulfill his dying wish of listening to her mother's fairy tale that she hasn't told them since they were young, that they learn why she has been so walled off from the rest of the world. As the novel progresses, the story is told in segments, and reveals their mother's firsthand account of living through the siege of Leningrad during WWII, watching those she loved suffer and die of malnourishment and illness through that bitter desperate winter. As the story comes out, the women's defenses begin to crumble, and they are able to see each other as more than just their long-established rules in the family for the first time. Their mother is no longer cold toward them, Meredith becomes more than just the oldest child who is always responsible, and Nina more than the flighty younger sister who can't be counted on. Learning of the precariousness of love and life from their mother's story, the women both turn to their significant others with new eyes as well and find the grace to patch up their struggling relationships and commit in a way they were never able to before. The close of the novel brings about a miracle for Anya too, proving that love never really runs out. Another beauty from Hannah, and a great look at a terrible portion of WWII that is often overlooked by historical fiction, but definitely full of stories worth telling.