This story takes place during the Holocaust, in Lithuania, also known as the Baltic genocide. A 15-year-old girl, Lina Vilkas, is arrested alongside her mother, Elena, and her little brother, Jonas. They are shoved onto a train by the Soviet Secret Police (The NKVD) alongside many other Jews, heading towards a concentration camp. To document what is happening to her, Lina draws pictures detailing everything she goes through in hopes of later showing the world.
I really, really enjoyed this book. To be fair though, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a historical fiction, it’s just an extremely good genre. I appreciate the effort Sepetys puts into researching each of her books and it really reflects when one reads them. This story is definitely not a light read and it will probably make you cry at some point but I would still recommend it to anyone. I think reading about the terrible things that have happened in history is a key part of never repeating it in the future, and if you happen to like reading, historical fiction is a great way to educate yourself.
I also loved how the book’s romance wasn’t overly forced onto you. There still is some (but let’s be real, almost all YA books have it), but it’s not the main point of the book, which is very very appreciated. I also really liked the epilogue of the story, because we all know I’m a sucker for a satisfying ending!
I would rate this book a 9/10. It’s definitely an incredible read but there’s just that special something that’s preventing it from getting the last star. I wasn’t really in the right mood reading this book, and sometimes that just leads to a skewed interpretation of the book, so I’m sorry if this biases my review. However, I would recommend this to people who enjoy historical fiction or are looking for more of a heavy and emotional read.