In my novel Saving Hope, I mention the graduation tradition for students leaving high school. They celebrate with champagne and staying up all night, walking around the city with their classmates. But this is only after the “last bell” that ends their final day at school.
The first and last bells of school are observed all over the country. According to one of my Russian language books, the first day of school celebrations were open to the neighborhood—even to those no longer with children attending. On September 1, the students line up from youngest to oldest, and the first-timers are welcomed in by the ringing of a bell (first bell). I’ve read that some schools present these first-years with a small bell of their own as a memento of the day. Many bring flowers to present to their teachers.
On the last day of school, the oldest students ring the bell for the last time, in a farewell ceremony. The papers carry photos of the oldest and youngest student ringing their bells together. For those who have basically been together for eleven years, it must be hard to say “good-bye,” but I think the champagne and all-night partying helps.
From a reviewer:
The book describes those times so realistically from simple traditions of graduating from high school to various domestic problems of everyday life in Russia, and from people losing their incomes and jobs, the poor healthcare system, to the criminal underworld – it made me re-live some of the things I experienced myself while living in post-Soviet Russia. – Tatiana Lammers
In one of Siberia’s formerly closed cities, Alexandra Pavlova, an unemployed microbiologist, struggles to save her daughter’s life. When she turns to Vladimir, her oldest friend, for help, she’s drawn into Russia’s underworld. His business dealings with the Iranians come to the attention of Sergei Borisov, an FSB (formerly the KGB) agent. Alexandra finds herself joining forces with Sergei to stop the export of a deadly virus in a race to save both her daughter and the world.
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