Primarily telling the story of the journey of a young Russian Jewess before, during, and following the Russian Revolution, Rivka’s War is the story of Rivka and her twin brother Mischa, who are raised in traditional Jewish traditions by a Russian factory owner. Time passes, and while visiting Mischa (now a university student), Rivka meets Maria Leontievna Bochkareva (Yashka), the loyalist founder of the Battalion of Death – a woman who fought in the trenches of WWI along with the men. Rivka, having a secret desire for adventure, joins Yashka and becomes heavily involved in the Battalion. Mischa, aware of the increasing trouble between workers and the monied class (and influenced by Lenin, Trotsky, and others), is drawn toward the revolutionaries. From that point, Rivka’s life becomes a series of trials as the chaos escalates, forcing her to flee across Siberia to the British/Turkish battlefields and eventually to the historic task of trying to found a Jewish state.
The tale, although a bit hard to follow at times, presents a fascinating description of developments in WWI-era Russia. The drama of pre-Israel state development is well-done and will interest and will interest Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike.