Posts Tagged 'Communism'

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction

Cristian is a seventeen-year-old boy living in Communist Romania with his entire family, including his elderly grandpa, in a tiny apartment. His Grandpa Bunu is very vocal about his displeasure for the Communist leader and how Bucharest has changed in recent years and Cristian’s mother is worried his opinions will get them all in trouble. Cristian goes to school 6 days a week while the rest of his family works ridiculous hours, and they still do not have the essentials they need such as proper food or clothing. They take turns waiting for hours in lines to get rations that still do not keep them nourished, and they know that there are spies and listening devices all over so they never feel they can speak freely. Cristian is shocked when he is approached at school to become an informer on an American diplomat’s son he recently met through his mother’s employment. He refuses at first, but then it becomes apparent they have been watching him and know exactly how to make him do exactly what they want. He hates himself for agreeing to spy, but it also makes him realize that if he can be blackmailed who knows who else around him is spying for the government as well. At one time or another he suspects most of those around him. Slowly they start to hear rumblings about a revolution and despite his mother’s warnings to keep his head down and stay safe, Cristian knows that if given the chance he would fight for a better Romania for its citizens. Will Cristian be able to outwit his handler or will he always be a step ahead? Will Cristian ever find out who he can trust among his family and friends? Will Cristian live long enough to see real change in his country?

Once again, Sepetys has highlighted a time in history that many people know very little, if anything about. The life Cristian, his family, and his school mates lead is unbelievably bleak, especially when you consider the final insult that they all suspect there are listening devices planted in their homes. The way the story is written it becomes easy for the reader to truly feel what it would be like to live this type of restricted, depraved existence, which is terrifying. Cristian is easy to identify with, but it still feels like he’s living in a no-win situation that can only end horribly. Recommended.


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