My "appreciation" rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: YA fiction
Potential objectionable material: graphic descriptions of death and deplorable living conditions
For the record, “mommy porn” got nothing on Joseph Stalin...
Fourteen year old Lina and her family have been forcibly removed from their home in Lithuania and shipped via train to Siberia to work in a prison camp at the onset of WWII. Their father, having been removed by the NKVD (the Soviet secret police), is missing as well and Lina is determined to find him through her “secret messages.”
In harrowing detail author, Ruta Sepetys, brings to life the forgotten story of Stalin’s obliteration of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania) during WWII. This was an illuminating account of what happened to nearly 20 million Russians, primarily doctors, authors, professors and other intellectual and political dissidents, who were shipped to Siberia under Stalin’s fascist regime.
It’s hard to say whether I “enjoyed” this novel. It was so brutal at times I nearly stopped reading. But Ms. Sepetys does such an amazing job recreating the misery and bleakness of what Lina’s family endured (and the hundreds of thousands of those that these characters represent) that I felt I owed her the respect of finishing her novel.
Personally, most WWII historical fiction that I have read focuses on Germany or the Holocaust during WWII. I was extremely appreciative that I could learn about another “front” of the WWII story.