I will admit that, although I often love historical fiction, I'm actually not a history buff at all. But there are certain time periods/historical events that I am especially drawn to (i.e. Tudor England and the Holocaust). So, when I was burnt out on fantasy stories and wanted something standalone and I ran across a review for this book I was instantly drawn to it because the situations listed on the back cover were very much like those found Nazi concentration camps.
book is about Lina,a Lithuanian girl who is taken from her home by the
Soviets during the summer of 1941. What follows is a years long journey
that separates her family from her father and takes them to Siberian
prison camps where they face disease, starvation, and much much more.
And yes this is a young adult novel (which so many people tend to look
down upon) and yes there is a touch of a romance weaved into the story
but the focus was not on the romance itself. Instead it was on hope,
survival, and the power of artwork.
I liked the characters and
personally thought they came alive through the beautifully written
passages. I worried for them and I hoped for them even though I knew
going into it that not everyone would make it out alive. (I was
pleasantly surprised to read the letter at the end and learn that there
was a bit of a happy ending for a few of the characters).
thought the pacing was good. In a story of confusion, shattered hopes
and dreams, one would dwell more on the beginning of the fall of their
normal life than after they became used to it so I find it very
understandable that the first train ride and journey took up a majority
of the story but not a majority of the character's lives.
also liked that in almost every chapter there was a flashback to
something that happened in Lina's life before she was imprisoned. They
not only showed how different the protagonist's life was before it
happened but I also found it interesting that most of the flashbacks
directly correlated with what was happening in real time (i.e.
remembering conversations that Lina didn't understand at the time but
would in the new context of her life).
All in all I really liked
this book and thought it was powerful, beautifully written and
heartbreaking in places. And I'm also glad that it taught me more
history because, as a friend of mine pointed out in her own review of
this book, we must know about our past to make sure we don't repeat it.