One of the joys of reading young adult novels is when they provide a “teaching moment.” It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, the lessons are often profound. I’ve read many stories about the treatment of the Jews during WWII. As a child, I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Farmington Hills, Michigan. We listened to stories from survivors. I have friends who are descendants of survivors from that horrible time in history.
What I DIDN’T know was that Hitler wasn’t alone in his plans for genocide. The Soviets, under Joseph Stalin, also systematically murdered over 20 million people. Teachers, children, librarians, priests, writers, artists, musicians…and MANY more innocent people were sent to prisons or to work camps in Siberia.
This book is a work of historical fiction. It was well written and I would certainly recommend it for high school teens and older. Due to the subject matter, this book may not be for everyone. However, I think it’s important to read a book like this, to understand this dark period in our history…so we never repeat it.
I am shocked that I’d never learned of this in school. Tens of millions of people died, and I’d never learned anything about this.
Watch the video. Read the book. It’s a beautifully written novel and I’ll certainly read more stories by this author.
Thank you, Ruta Sepetys, for educating me with your novel! The audio edition kept me riveted—to the point where I was sorry to see it end.