Published: March 22nd 2011 (first published January 1st 2011)
Publisher: Philomel Books
Sort: Stand alone.
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch.”
This is a very impressive story. It shows how cruel people can be towards each other. The suffer we can give to another person, simply because they had the power to do so.
I also loved this girl, Lina. She is a Lithuanian girl with a happy life, until she is forced to work in a labor camp in Siberia. She is separated from her father and she takes a great risk: she draws pictures, hoping that she can talk to her father that way. The fact that Lina does something like that, shows how strong and brave she really is.
She kept going on, when a lot of other people would have given up. The story also shows how 'looks can be deceiving'. When a woman gets a lot of privilege, everybody expects her to be a traitor. But then you discover what she must do and the reason why she does it. Heartbreaking. That's the power of this book. The complex characters, the way the past and present melt together and the harsh reality.