Rating: 4.3 stars
Lina lives in Lithuania during World War Two. She draws, day dreams about boys, and seems on the whole someone we can connect to. But things change quickly for Lina. She and her family are taken from their homes, split up, shoved into a train car and are headed to Siberia.
This book had a bit more of an impact on me than most, and it wasn’t just the story or the writing, but the personal connection I had. My grandmother – Estonian – described to me something very similar to this, told me about her cousins that were taken and never seen again. I remember growing up with horror stories that she told and retold about the rumours she’d heard about the situation with these people who were sent away.
Needless to say, the book broke my heart in so many ways. It felt so real, the parallels between what I’d been told, and what I was reading were just so strong. It was a story I really felt like it needed to be told.
Trying to put the personal connection aside, the book itself I found quite riveting. Lina just feels so much like any other teenage girl, and what she must do to survive is terrifying – even more so because we know this was reality. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s style of writing. Its not a wonder that she was nominated for so many awards. The accolades are well deserved.
Recommendations: Its’ not an easy read, and there are some horrors in the story that are a little unsettling. It is a YA book, but not for the faint of heart. It’s a heartbreaker, but a brilliant work of historical fiction that really deserves to be told. More mature middle school readers and up.
Themes: resilience, loss, hope, strength, coming of age,