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At what cost?

Cover of I Must Betray You
A review of I Must Betray You by Rūta Šepetys

One of my reading goals this year is to read most (if not all) of this year’s Teen’s Choice Awards books, in part so that I can recommend them more readily, but also because this crop of YA novels is so GOOD, and I love being able to support teen readers!

The first book I read from this year’s list was I Must Betray You, by the wonderful Lithuanian-American author Rūta Šepetys (rhymes with spaghetti). It’s a work of historical fiction, set in Romania in 1989. And before you tune me out, just listen to this: A boy, Cristian, falls for a girl, Liliana, while living under the weight of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s dictatorship. Many go hungry and few can be trusted; at times, it seems that everyone is being blackmailed by the government to inform on their friends, neighbors, and even family members. Imagine falling in love under such circumstances!

Meanwhile, a hopeful revolution is brewing, and Cristian is guided by the love of his sister, Cici, and the strong, fearless voice of his grandfather, Bunu, as he figures out how to join in. But it isn’t long before Cristian discovers that someone has been informing on him. And when that person’s identity is revealed, it comes as a shock—and a perfect encapsulation of the terror, twisted manipulation, and desperation of the time.

Tl;dr: this is a must-read.

--reviewed by Annie A.

Nov 6, 2023