Set in Romania, 1989, I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys follows 17-year-old Christian Florescu as he navigates life and protests under the brutal regime of Nicolas Ceausecu.
Christian dreams of becoming a writer, but chances aren’t likely. His family is already marked because of his grandfather, an outspoken critic of the current regime and a target of the secret police.
But Christian can’t imagine life without his grandfather – especially sharing quiet jokes on the balcony after school.
Then he’s cornered by the secret police – and forced to report on his mother’s employer.
Who betrayed him? And can he outwit the secret police? Will Romania join the protests against Communist regimes spreading across Eastern Europe? Who can he trust?
Sepetys has a keen sense of life in nearly unbearable circumstances, as exhibited in her other excellent books Between Shades of Gray (Ashes in the Snow), Out of the Easy, Salt to the Sea, and Fountains of Silence. I consider each one of her books as essential reading for young adults – and their parents.
Highly, highly recommended for ages 14 and up.