I have not normally been the biggest fan of historical YA books but this story has caused me to change my mind. I listened to the audio book through my library and I believe that made the story that much more powerful.
Set in 1941, Lina and her family are happy with their lives in Lithuania. They are all making normal plans for a normal summer. That is until Soviet officers rush into their home and give them 20 minutes to pack their belongings. Lina, along with her family and neighbors, are forced into train cars in freezing temperatures. This is just the start of their horrific journey ending in Siberia. Along the way, Lina sees events and actions that she never imagined another human being could do. She relies heavily on her mother to help keep her calm and sane, no matter what she is going through. It is almost too much to put into words exactly what happened and what was witnessed, so please pick up this book to read for yourself. This story is set in a place and time when the eyes of the world were focused on Hitler in Germany. It was a truly terrible time in world history, but it was all still true. The story of Lina’s journey was powerfully written, yet very painful to read.
It is hard not to immediately feel for Lina and everything she went through. You want to hug her, tell her everything will be alright, when you know that her story will not end in sunshine and rainbows. Nevertheless, this is a story that everyone should read. I was not familiar with this part of history but I am very glad I took the time to read it. The book is tough to put down once you start reading, as you will immediately be pulled into Lina’s world. You will fall for the characters, the setting, and the journey. It certainly will tug at your heartstrings.
The writing was so strong and flowed beautifully. While reading, I felt as if I was in the ditches with Lina and Jonas – that is how well this story was executed. I have yet to read a more brutally honest story that made me cry tears of pain for the characters. I cannot recommend this enough to all readers. Please do not let the category of ‘historical’ deter you from adding to your TBR. I implore you – please read this book.