Book Rec: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
“How could we expect others to feel our pain or hear our cries for help when all we could do was whisper?”
Sepetys does it again in this gut-wrenching, can’t-put-it-down historical thriller. The spy network in Communist Romania is alive and well and a 17-year-old must walk a tightrope to play the game. This novel helps us remember the dark history often covered up. Written by a Nashville local, I Must Betray You is a riveting story about a factual time in Eastern Europe as the Iron Curtain comes crumbling down. Great book for high school students to better understand the fight for freedom. Discussion guide below!
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?
Before reading this book, what did you already know about 1989 Communist Romania?
Not every book has a happy ending. Do you feel like Cristian received one? Why or why not?
The novel strongly focuses on friendships. How do you think you would respond in a community in which you can’t trust anyone?
Why do you think Cristian writes and doesn’t speak out? How did his notebook end up speaking volumes for the people of Romania?