I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: 4th August 2022
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Source: Publisher, NetGalley
Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.
Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?
I always love reading Ruta Sepetys’ books because they manage to teach me something new. I had no idea Romania was living through a communist regime so close to the time I was born. It’s not something we covered in school. So I really appreciate that Sepetys tackles lesser known (to us in the UK or US) events in European history.
I don’t feel as though I Must Betray You had the same heart as Sepetys’ WW2 books. I really feel like her passion truly lies with those. Otherwise, I thought this was an excellent book. It was just lacking a certain something.
As I didn’t know anything about the history behind this novel, I felt this was a great way to introduce me to Romania’s struggle against a dictator in the 80’s. I enjoyed learning about it through Cristian’s eyes, who was someone who had grown up in this environment but didn’t necessarily agree with it – but he didn’t realise that he could not agree with it. That that was even an option.
I felt the ending to this book was a bit rushed. I would have liked to have spent another 40 or so pages with Cristian and in the midst of the revolution, rather than jumping from place to place. After spending so much time following Cristian and his family, I felt like I needed more time to let what was happening to them and their country properly sink in.
This was another impressive read by Ruta Sepetys, and I can’t wait to see what she decides to tackle next!