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*Thank you to BookishFirst and Philomel Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review*

I must betray you by Ruta Sepetys is absolutely chilling and not in a good way. I read this in a day within a matter of hours which hasn’t happened to me in ages. This story while fiction centers around the absolutely brutal reality of communism. I think for most who have never lived under communism couldn’t even begin to understand what it would be like to live under such a regime. Being an American I certainly have no concept or idea what living in a country under rule would be like. I think many Americans myself included take for granted the freedoms we have today.

Although America has come a long way in 244 years. In writing and correcting a lot of unspeakable horrific things as slavery. Today thousands continue to want to come here to escape hardships in their homeland to get to experience freedom. That word in my opinion is at the heart of this story. As I mentioned earlier this story while fiction centers around a family during Nicolae Ceausescu’s brutal rule in the 1980’s. Christian Florescu and his family are living in the midst of the brutal life in Romania.

Life is bleak, routine and hopeless a place where there is no room for self-expression or individual thought. Christian knows his dreams are not only illegal but pointless. Professions such as being a writer are forbidden 🚫 and a punishable offense. Still he dreams about what else is out there beyond Romania’s borders. Christian’s relationship with his grandfather was one of my favorite parts of the story.
His grandfather Bunu was so inspiring!

He was the biggest influence on Christian throughout the story. He was for sure what the state called a “dissenter” and made the point of emphasizing that to him. “If communism is paradise, why do we need barriers, walls, and laws to from people escaping? The scene when Christian comes home 🏠 to find out that his beloved grandfather has died was gut wrenching. The whole reason Christian “agreed” to become an informer for the state is he wanted to help get medicine for Bunu who was sick 🤕 with leukemia.

Heartbreakingly he would later learn that his help was for not. That his grandfather did not cancer ♋️ but was slowly being poisoned by the state. That day he returned home 🏠 his mother had told him of his death ☠️ his body was black and blue. He had not only been poisoned by the state but also had been beaten to death. It was horrific to read. Thought the rest of the story he struggles immensely with Bunu’s death ☠️ or more precisely murder. He was the one who taught him to be a free thinker something that was absolutely forbidden by the regime.

His relationship with his sister Cici was the other relationship that gave him comfort. They understand each other other although she always warned him to be cautious. It was shocking when he learned that she was an informer and had betrayed him and their family. How ironic though were those thoughts when he himself one for the state? For it to be Cici was shocking only because she came across as kind hearted and innocent.

Their falling out was awful made worse by Christian learning later on that all Cici was trying to was to protect her family and provide support assistance which would lead to her death. ☠️ There were so many other characters and other aspects in this story that I can talk about. From Christian’s girlfriend Liliana and her brother Alex. To his correspondence with his “target” Dan Von Don and his diplomat father. It was overwhelming to try to write a comprehensive review because there was so much to this story.

One Jarring thing that Christian mentions thought the book is his love and obsession for Bananas 🍌 Even the smallest thing such as a common fruit was an unheard of luxury during this period. So much so that when his mother was able to get him some shampoo that smelled like fruit he drank it wanting to experience the taste. That really stuck with me. Everyone should pick up this book. It changes your perspective on so many things.