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The Books

How Long Is Exile? BOOK I: The Song and Dance Festival of Free Latvians

Book I, The Song and Dance Festival of Free Latvians takes place in 1983, in Milwaukee, during four the days of the festival. Milda Bērziņš-Arājs, a widow in her early  50ies, drives to the festival after years of mourning for her husband Kārlis Arājs, hoping to recover, meet her daughter Ilga, and start a new life of self-realization and freedom. However, her resolve is thwarted immediately, when she runs into Pēteris Vanags, a WW II veteran and her teen-age love,.....

How Long Is Exile? BOOK II Out of the Ruins of Germany

Book II, Out of the Ruins of Germany, takes place during the last months of WW II. Milda is a beautiful, smart teenager, closely tied to her Aunt, as they journey on, dodging bombs, hunger, and homelessness—until the American troops arrive. They choose to join other refugees in Esslingen, Wurtember, where an all-Latvian camp is set up and run by Americans. But there, Milda learns Latvia’s tortured history, acts in the theater, studies English, and falls passionately for the young.....

How Long is Exile? BOOK III The Long Road Home

Book III, The Long Road Home rounds off Milda’s journey, as history had overtaken the displaced. The Cold War is over, the Soviet Union has fallen, and Milda travels back to Latvia to meet her sister and reclaim their parents’ lost home. Freedom has returned to all the Communist-ruled lands, and a new era is being ushered in with a massive song and dance festival (1990), where the split families and nation sing together. However, reality is more complicated, and.....