Eighteen-year-old Filip has few options; he is a prime candidate for forced labor in Germany. His hurried marriage to Galina might grant him reprieve, but the rules keep changing. Galina’s parents, branded as traitors for innocently doing business with the enemy, decide to volunteer in hopes of better placement.

The work turns out to be horrific, but at least the family stays together. By winter 1945, Allied air raids destroy strategic sites, but Dresden, a city of no military consequence, seems safe. The world knows Dresden’s fate. Roads is the story of one family lucky enough to escape with their lives as Dresden burns behind them. But as the war ends, they are separated and their trials continue.

Looking for safety in an alien land, they move toward one another with the help of refugee networks and pure chance. Along the way, they find new ways to live in a changed world—new meanings for fidelity, grief, and love

Excerpt from the Book

In the end, getting away was easy.

They set off across the field through ankle-high summer-browned grass, heading for the road, Filip’s shovel swinging by his side. Ilya set the pace, purposeful but not too fast. They walked abreast, heads down.

“Keep walking,” Ilya said softly, glancing sideways at his son-in-law. “Don’t look back. He’ll think we’re going to work on the road.”

With a rucksack and all our possessions? Filip thought, but merely grunted in reply, refusing to look at the older man, expecting at any moment a shout, a bullet in the back. The old man had to be crazy, thinking two Russian men in German uniform, ROA insignia on their sleeves, could expect to survive in this alien land, even if the war was over. Wasn’t the American camp they had just left behind their best hope?

When they reached the shade of the linden trees that lined the road, the men stopped and turned. Across the field they had just crossed, the camp looked small, a forlorn grouping of gray barracks, a dusty yard, a neglected watchtower, a wisp of smoke rising from the kitchen chimney, where even now the next meal they would not eat was being prepared.

And there was Anneliese, carrying a basket of laundry to the officers’ quarters, throwing her brash laugh over her shoulder at a passing remark. His eye caught the glint of sunlight on her cropped auburn hair, hair he knew to be fine and smooth and smelling of almonds. Filip suffered a momentary twinge of regret, a little ache at the back of the throat. Did Anneliese care that he had not said good-bye?

A few men milled around the yard with no apparent purpose. Some stood in small groups or squatted in a circle where, Filip knew, there would be dice or a card game in progress. The lone sentry stood with his back against a fence post, one leg bent back at the knee, the sole of his booted foot resting against the fence. He lit a cigarette, tossed the match into the scrubby grass. That’s what I want, thought Filip. An American cigarette.


©Chicago Review Press, 2017


Please enjoy Marina reading the synopsis and some excerpt from Roads, recorded live by Universal by Design/Virtual Book Tour. 11 Minutes.



“Like The Madonnas of Leningrad, Marina Antropow Cramer’s sweeping novel brings to life the suffering of ordinary Russians during World War II. With richly evoked compassion, Roads shows us the power of family and love to survive in the face of devastation.”

Laurie Lico Albanese, author of Stolen Beauty

“Riveting, heartbreaking, and beautifully written, Roads takes us deep into the black heart of Nazi Germany, finding not only horror and despair but a stubborn and tenacious hope and a kind of clarity about what it means to be human.”

Christina Baker Kline, number one New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“A broad, moving novel of a family’s creation, migration, dispersal and reconnection through war and its aftermath. Cramer offers a realistic portrait of a horrific era, counterpointed by the hope and determination required to get out to the other side.”

Russian Life Magazine

“Close third-person narration and a clear, chronological timeline transport the reader into story. Style derives not from emotionally-charged prose but from elegant syntax and precise word choice. Historical and psychological research clearly informs this tale, but author Marina Antropow Cramer remains in the shadows, never revealing her hand. Highly recommended.”

–Historical Novel Society Review-Issue 80, May 2017.


“… the author’s skill at threading themes through the story with her multi layered characters has a spellbinding affect …”

–Story Circle Book Review


“The story focuses primarily on the young couple, Galina and, especially, Filip. His character is not admirable, and their relationship lacks the depth and beauty of Galina’s parents’ love, which provides a marked contrast, and realistically illustrates how different personalities deal with the same hardships in markedly different ways.”

This title has been recommended for young adult readers.

–Booklist Review


“Roads is a subtle investigation of war and everyday people struggling to find refuge. In the case of Filip, Galina, and the family that forms around them, Cramer deftly illustrates the price ordinary citizens pay once the war machine is in motion. When the resolution is reached, it hovers, a tenuous moment that leaves some characters with new strength and others poised to plummet and break.”

–ForeWord Magazine-May/June 2017

“… the author’s skill at threading themes through the story with her multi layered characters has a spellbinding affect …”

–Story Circle Book Review


Award Nominations

• Great Lakes Colleges Association  (GLCA) New Writers Award, for first book of fiction published in 2017

• PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction

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One thought on “Roads”

  1. Oh my… oh my… oh my God. What beauty, what pathos, what love … what love of life. I am a 71 year old Polish-American who can neither speak nor read Russian but I cried through the children’s singing. Though the Russian kulak has suffered greatly his spirit “his transcendent love” will help mankind find redemption as Dostoevsky has claimed!

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