Updated: Jan 11
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.”
Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Though I have known Stalin's regime was brutal, I never understand the horrors which it entailed until reading this book. The inhumanity humans are capable of committing are aptly captured by Ruta after her exhausting research. Maybe the pen is not mightier than the sword, but the pen always finds a hand to write the truth.
The story is told through the eyes of a 15 year old Lithuanian girl named Lina. Her family is forcibly removed from their home with only 20 minutes warning by the NKVD (later to be known as the KGB), and their plight goes rapidly down hill from there. Ruta Sepetys tells a great story, but to be fair, it is evidently a story she did not have to create as it is based upon true accounts.
Perhaps the best part of her writing style is how she is able to portray Lina and the fears she felt, while going back and forth between the past and present as Lina reverts in her mind back to happy times in Lithuania.
At times I felt the story was a little rushed by the author, which is evidenced by the shortness of this novel. But then again, there was plenty of detail to capture of horrors of the Lithuanians as they struggled to survive deep in Siberia. Ruta's talent is her ability to use words that enable you to feel the pain of her characters.
For me, the primary mark of a good novel was met with this one; I did not want to stop reading, and I was disappointed when I reached the end; disappointed at the outcome and disappointed there was not more novel to read.
Overall, a heart-wrenching story presented in its raw form by a gifted author.
Want to know more? Check out the review of this book by Betsy the Book Whisperer