“Exactly a year before, the Soviets have begun moving troops over the borders into the country. Then, in August, Lithuania was officially annexed into the Soviet Union. When I complained at the dinner table, Papa yelled at me and told me to never, ever say anything derogatory about the Soviets. He sent me to my room. I didn’t say anything out loud after that. But I thought about it a lot.”
As someone who really never reads World War II fiction novels. I’m shockingly amazed and honestly glad I read this book. A book of horror and beauty combined into one? Honestly, this book shattered me into a million pieces. This is probably one of the saddest and emotionally tearing novels I’ve ever read. Hearts will break and shatter.
The novel started by introducing us right into the main plot. In 1941, Lina Vilkas is found in the middle of the night by soviet officers. Her family is Lithuanian and on Stalin’s extermination or “hit” list. Given 20 minutes to pack and leave her childhood home, Lina is brought onto a tireless and really halting journey. This book is beautifully written but it talks about a side of history not many really know about or don’t care to learn about. This book focuses on the psychological effects on not only the Jews but also the people the Soviet Union captured and put through a living hell.
I can’t say there’s anything that I could truly hate about this book. The writing showed to throw you into a new world. The world that existed n an uncharted land of our hearts and wasn’t truly taught in schools. Reading historical fiction is a double-edged sword, it’s either beautifully written and speaks to your soul or doesn’t speak to you. When you can feel the emotions of the characters you love it much more. Lina, her mother, and her brother are all characters with a lot of depth. This is one of those few novels where the mother is the true protagonist of the novel. Her mother did all she could to survive and make sure her only children would survive. That itself made this novel worthwhile.
I’m looking forward to reading more from Ruta Sepetys. I no doubt will be recommending this novel, not only is it a form of a history lesson for those who’re unaware of the tragedies that occurred during Stalin’s reign but it also is a breathtakingly beautiful novel even if it’s also a tragically spectacular novel. I’m giving this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars! Caio!