by Ruta Sepetys
Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer.
He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.
Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?
I have a bowl of bananas sitting in my kitchen. Read this book, and you’ll understand why that fact hit me.
I Must Betray You explores what life was like in Communist Romania. It’s a sobering read but in a good way. The characters stand in line for hours for a scrap of food. Their electricity can be turned off at any time for no reason. They wonder if Disneyland is real, or simply a legend.
And who can you trust in Communist Romania? No one. Not your friends, your family, or even yourself.
Sepetys doesn’t shy away from showing the harsh, true realities of what life was like, but she does it tastefully. It isn’t for shock value, and it isn’t graphic. The only time it got semi-descriptive was toward the end of the novel during the riots, and even then the descriptions served a purpose. They conveyed the gravity of the scenes.
I Must Betray You is a thought-provoking read. Fans of Taryn R. Hutchinson’s One Degree of Freedom will enjoy the novel, and vice versa.
Cautions: five blasphemy; five instances of swearing; light/moderate romance; two kisses; semi-graphic violence and descriptions *
*I listened to the audiobook while I was working, so I may have missed a caution.