In August 1996, at age 13, Yuliya S. Shirokova immigrated from Kyiv, Ukraine to Tacoma, Washington. She has served as a combat medic in the Washington State Army National Guard and has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in health administration. She is a Health Services Manager at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Since Yuliya could not walk until she was three years old, most of her time was spent with adults instead of with her peers. This early exposure to conversations about politics, history, and the aspirations of her fellow Ukrainians sparked her lifelong interest in these subjects. Drawing on her own memories and interviews with family members and friends, Yuliya’s book will take us through the turbulent times of the USSR’s perestroika, the breakup of the USSR, Ukraine’s first Independence Day, 9/11, and other events through the eyes of the author as she was growing up and becoming an adult.
Although Yuliya has been in the United States for more than 25 years, she has come to understand the impossibility of escaping the political turbulence she left in the Kyiv of 1996. The 9/11 terrorist attack, the reporting of the tragedy, and the public rhetoric around it felt very similar to what she had heard growing up around the USSR and its war in Afghanistan. The annexation of Crimea and the world’s inaction mirrored the indifference the world had to Hitler’s two-day takeover of Czechoslovakia leading up to World War II. The January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol brought back a visceral memory of the 1993 October Coup in Moscow.
Although Yuliya has been planning a memoir for years, recent events in Ukraine were the final catalyst that spurred her to write it now. Her book is as yet untitled. She is working with Blue Ear Books to write it during 2022 and publish it in late 2022 or early 2023.
We invite you to support both Yuliya’s book and humanitarian relief in Ukraine by pre-purchasing a signed copy. Use the drop-down menu to choose your preferred level of support.
You can also contribute to relief efforts in Ukraine directly via Yuliya’s GoFundMe page.
Here is an excerpt from Yuliya’s book:
It was August 24, 1991. I was nine years old, and the now independent Ukraine was celebrating its first Independence Day since the fall of the USSR. The main artery of Kyiv, Khreschatyk Street, was closed to cars, so all you could see was a sea of people collectively celebrating, framed by the giant chestnut trees on either side. My mom and I, and two more families of our friends, were a part of this collective triumph. We were walking from the metro station to the main square to watch the free concert about to be given by Ukrainian pop stars and bands. I turned my head and saw an ice cream parlor with at least a dozen different flavors. I was stunned. So this is what independence of your country meant?! I was all in!