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IN THE BEGINNING goes back to the poet’s life before her arrest, interweaving her experiences of growing up in Odessa with those of her childhood friend and future husband Igor Geraschenko. With wit and simplicity Irina describes a biased and turbulent education, being pressured to work for the KGB, the growth of faith that became so important to her in later life, and an impromptu wedding. Ratushinskaya shows how her early experiences moulded her personality, enabling her at a time of almost unbearable pressure to remain true to her own convictions.