I Must Betray You (Book Review)

You’ll love it if
only the best historical fiction will suffice

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I Must Betray You

By Ruta Sepetys

Plot & Pacing
Writing Craft
Moral Value

Did you know how bad communism was in Romania in ’89?

Me neither! I had no clue.

To think—while I was eating Cheerios and watching Care Bears and playing Barbies, these families were living off of chicken feet and tiny potatoes, with only black-market access to anything remotely Western. They couldn’t even get proper medical care without bribing people with packs of cigarettes. Electricity and heat were hit or miss. Eating a banana was something that only happened in your dreams. All the while, one corrupt family in power was living the high life. Oooh, shudder.

I almost wanted to categorize this as “dystopian.” I feel like this will hit home with a lot of young adults simply because it really happened—and can happen again.

It brings to spine-tingling life what happens when dictators have absolute power. It portrays the human dilemmas that regular people were shouldering under this inhumane regime. There was forced privation. Constant suspicion of neighbors and even family members. Who is listening? Who saw? Will they tell on me? Talk about anxiety! Also, zero hope that things will get better.

The structure of the book is perfect for YA. Short chapters propel you forward. Action and mystery and dilemmas at every turn.

I also loved the back matter, showing photos of people, places, and objects that figure into the story. I’m impressed by the depth of research that Ruta Sepetys put into this book.

YA historical fiction at its best.


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