Author: Ruta Sepetys
Published: Penguin, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
As a writer, I often wonder what was it like to live in a different time period. What ideals, customs, standards and threats helped to weave together the life of an individual? While I am at home writing fantasy pieces my reading passion lies with historical fiction. My curiosity to know about the past and the people that existed led me to consume various historical fiction, biographies and nonfiction books over my lifetime. When an author successfully brings tears to my eyes I know they have harnessed the deepest emotions from the well of humanity.
Lina is fifteen and preparing to attend art school over the summer. She lives in Lithuania and the year is 1941. Her father is a successful college professor who does not return home one evening. A knock on her family's door changes her life forever. The Soviet secret police rip her apart her home, her family and her life. Lina sees horrors she cannot even comprehend as her family is sentenced to forced labor on a farm in Siberia. Unable to discover what has happened to her father, Linda embeds clues through her art hoping her father will see her drawings someday. She hopes her love for her family will keep her alive as she fights for her survival and those around her. Lina will come to know heartbreak so deep that the scars will remain open wounds for the rest of history.
Sepetys is a talented, fresh historical fiction writer. Her chapters are short and powerful infused with raw emotions some humans will never experience. The atrocities of the Stalin occupation in Lithuania tore open the hearts of those affected and bled their lives into history. Sepetys emotionally-driven writing will leave her readers contemplating how Lina found the strength to survive. She will make her readers wonder how much strength do they have hidden inside themselves.