I Must Betray You – Book Review

Title:- I Must Betray You

Author:- Ruta Sepetys

Date published:- 1st February 2022

No. of pages:- 321 pages

Genre:- Historical Fiction


Plot:- 5/5

Writing:- 5/5

Overall rating:- 5/5

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?

A gut-wrenching, startling window into communist Romania and the citizen spy network that devastated a nation, from the number one New York Times best-selling, award-winning author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray

This is one of the touching books I have read. This is one of the first books I have read, based on downfall of communism and brutal rule of Nicole Ceausescu in 1989 when the whole of Eastern Europe is experiencing the downfall of communist rule after nearly forty years of ruling.

The story is about a teenage boy named Cristian who had dreams of studying philosophy and study English. The Romanians are living in dire situations at the time, standing for more than three days under brutal cold weather for cooking fuel and dreaming of getting access to restricted items like Coca-Cola and meat. Cristian’s grandfather is a staunch opposer of the regime and would fix his radio by exchanging Kent cigarettes to listen to Radio Free Channel where it broadcast across Europe talking about what is happening in Eastern Europe. Cristian then suddenly hired as an informer to report on about the American family that his mother is working for in exchange for his grandfather’s medicine.

The chapters are short so it makes it faster to read, which is a good thing. However, the story itself is well written and simple and I was literally immersed into the story. Though I know a thing about communism particularly the Berlin wall breaking in 1989 and Soviet Union collpasing in 1991, The difficult conditions and hardships that many Romanians faced while the leaders are living a life of luxury was something new that I have read. I do like the blossoming relationship between Cristi and Lilliana, the girl who lives on the opposite of Cristi’s apartment. I also like the close relationship between Cristian and his grandfather and also between his sister and him. Reading about the revolution and reading about the brutality of the police were at times difficult to read. The author must have done tremendous research about life in Romania during the communist rule that as a reader, I felt like I was reading a true story even though the characters are fictional. Overall, if you are looking for a good historical fiction, then I highly recommend this book–worth five stars!

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author and Winner of the Carnegie Medal.
Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. The daughter of a refugee, Ruta is drawn to underrepresented stories of strength through struggle and hopes to give voice to those who weren’t able to tell their story. Her award-winning historical novels are published in over sixty countries and have received over forty literary prizes.

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