Mateus Costa Costa từ 67022 Capestrano AQ, Ý
This book has no plot beyond the horror of the Soviet’s extermination of the Baltic nation’s intelligentsia and their families. There’s a bit of a love story in there to give it hope (though I wish the resolution would have happened on screen). But basically it’s one long death march, with the too-common tale of a happy life shattered by the arrival of soldiers who pack the family into a train, take them to a work camp and make their lives miserable. There’s death, starvation, disease. There’s the survivalists and opportunists and pessimists. There’s moments of kindness in the bleakness. It is unique that it’s a WWII book about the horrors committed by the Soviets (our allies), not the Nazis. It sheds light on an event that has been too often ignored, especially in the West. I don’t know, I don’t like saying bad things about books like this but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it. It wasn’t boring or a slog. It just felt like something I’ve read before and frankly these are stories I never really like reading, because they are so grim and painful. And I never really attached to anyone. This could be because I knew it would be tragic, but also because I kind of feel that Lina and her family are really being used as stand-ins for all the Lithuanians killed by the Soviets. It’s like the requisite tragic things have to happen, all the boxes of bad things have to be checked off. Aw man, I feel like a horrible person just writing these things, like WWII books can’t be criticized. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap that Sepetys does, and it's hard to add something new, to make a story unique and compelling. And then I want to ask myself, why should a WWII book be entertaining? Isn’t it enough that it reminds the reader of the horror that lurks on the edge of humanity and of all the victims of those horrible years? And then I tell myself that it’s a novel, not nonfiction, and it’s purpose is to entertain while enlightening and that it does its job better if it makes the reader truly connect with the characters and connect with the story. But no matter what I'm left with the sticky, sickly feeling of guilt. Long story short, it's a book worth reading if you're interested in WWII. It's a pretty quick read. Not very long in general and with short chapters. I think it works best for younger people, who have read maybe Number the Stars or Anne Frank's Diary but not a whole lot of other WWII books. And I do hope it does well, because the deaths of all those in the Baltic states shouldn't be forgotten. But I've already read several WWII books this year and I'm soul-tired as it is.
Book was an easy, riveting read. The ending was both surprising and predictable, which is a testament to the narrative's ability to keep you guessing until the very end.