Thirteen-year-old Matthew is miserable. His journalist dad is stuck overseas indefinitely, and his mom has moved in his one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother to ride out the Covid pandemic, adding to his stress and isolation. But when Matthew finds a tattered black-and-white photo in his great-grandmother’s belongings, he discovers a clue to a hidden chapter of her past—one that will lead to a life-shattering family secret.
Set in alternating timelines that connect the present day to the 1930s and the US to the USSR, Katherine Marsh’s latest novel sheds fresh light on the Holodomor—the horrific famine that killed millions of Ukrainians, which the Soviet government covered up for decades.
Inspired by Marsh’s own family history, The Lost Year is an incredibly timely, page-turning story of family, survival, and sacrifice.
Available or coming in translation in: French, Polish, Romanian, Czech
Longlisted for the National Book Award
A Junior Library Guild selection
A 2024-2025 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
2023-2024 Tome Student Literary Society It List
- A special introductory video by Katherine for teachers and librarians
- The “making of” story in a special feature by Publisher’s Weekly
- Free comprehensive educators’ guide!
“Katherine Marsh has beautifully woven a gripping tale covering both the Stalin-orchestrated Ukraine famine in 1932 and the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Marsh shows us how deeply connected we are to our past and that in the middle of a societal crisis where disinformation is rampant, the ultimate truth can be found in the relationships we hold dear. It will break your heart and put it back together again. A must-read especially for these times.” —Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Night Diary
“The Lost Year brings this little-known slice of history to life with lively characters and a high-stakes plot that’ll keep you turning pages.” — Steve Sheinkin, Three-Time National Book Award Finalist
“The Lost Year is both timeless and timely, a tapestry woven of complex lives in a loving family over generations, as Mattie’s lockdown catches fire when he unearths a guilty secret fearfully guarded for nearly ninety years by his Ukrainian great-grandmother. Katherine Marsh is a genius for creating people that feel real in a story that feels magical.” —Elizabeth Wein, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Code Name Verity
“Katherine Marsh tackles a heart wrenching slice of history — the mass starvation of millions of Ukrainians under Stalin — with an unwavering gaze and great empathy. Be forewarned: this book will change you.” —Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
“Marsh’s intertwining narratives ground the story of the Holodomor—which affected her own family—within a historical framework while leading up to a completely believable and emotionally powerful conclusion. A strong subplot discusses journalistic integrity and how one powerful man managed to keep the truth of the Holodomor hidden for years. A moving presentation of a long-suppressed piece of history.” —Kirkus
“The fairly lengthy middle-grade rewards readers with a nimble twist and satisfying ending and has an obvious urgency in light of current geopolitics. A natural selection for fans of Alan Gratz and a stepping stone to the work of Ruta Sepetys, this sobering and important story will be an excellent addition to classroom and library collections.” –Booklist, starred review
“Marsh has a clear knowledge of the Soviet world and the Holodomor and she seamlessly interweaves historical events and figures without extensive exposition. This feels especially timely given the Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as the continuing pandemic.” –Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books
“A 13-year-old boy discovers a dark family secret in this stirring volume…Captivating first-person POV chapters—which alternate between Matthew in 2020 N.J. and Helen, Nadiya, and Mila in 1930s Brooklyn and Kyiv—vividly render the suffering caused by Stalin’s imposed famine, Holodomor; the event’s perception around the world; and the aftereffects that ripple into Matthew’s present.” –Publishers Weekly
Marsh’s affecting historical novel, inspired by her own family’s story, describes the social and political backdrop of the Holodomor, a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s and was covered up by the Soviets (Ukraine was a republic of the USSR at the time)… The multiple voices come together to bear witness and remind us that history is a collection of stories, “and it matters enormously who gets to tell them.” A compelling and timely look at the historically complex and fraught relationship between Ukraine and Russia. –The Horn Book