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I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

Updated: May 2, 2023

2022, Penguin Random House

Nicolae Ceauśescu, (chow-SHESK-oo), communist leader of Romania from 1965 - 1989, duped other world leaders into considering him an OK guy, while tyrannising his people, turning them into a country of spies where no one could trust anyone else. Families struggled to survive while Ceauśescu and his wife led a life of luxury. Finally, the Romanian people revolted. I Must Betray You applauds human resilience, while warning us of the importance of democracy to guard against tyranny.

Well-written, with a firm focus on well-researched history, plenty of intrigue, and a dash of romance, the book classifies as both adult and youth fiction. My friend Annelise thank you for the book!), and her daughter, Mary Lou, a junior in an international high school in France, read I Must Betray You for their respective bookclubs.

Interview with Mary Lou

Thank you, Mary Lou, for taking time out of your busy end-of-junior-year schedule. Why did you read I Must Betray You? First of all, I loved Sepetys' books Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea. Secondly, it was picked to read in the book club my friend and I started this year at my school.

What did you like best? The way it is written keeps the reader hooked until the end, thanks to all the plot twists and character developments. Also, I had no idea about Romania under the Soviet Union, and the terrible lifestyle of that time. I also loved the characters who felt almost real and were easy to connect to.

What did you like least? I didn’t really dislike anything, but if I had to modify one thing, the revolution could have been shown in a more general way instead of just centralising around the point of view of Christian, the main character.

What touched you the most? Critical moments involving Christian and his family, but I don't want to reveal too many plot details!

How did you and your friend create the bookclub at your school? My friend Alix, from the German Section, was looking for a club to join, and asked me if the American Section had a bookclub. We went to see Mrs. Crist, the American Section librarian, and she offered us the task of creating one ourselves. Since we needed a minimum of 6 students, Alix and I asked all our friends, and within 2 days, we had 20 junior-year students from different international Sections! We meet every 2 months to discuss a book, generally a light and easy read so that everyone can relax and disconnect from school for a bit. Next year, Alix and I plan to invite the rising juniors and seniors to join. If there are more than 25 students, we'll divide the group into 2 smaller bookclubs. For each meeting, we'll suggest a choice between one classic book, and one lighter, more fantastical book.


Read an interview with Ruth Sepetys here.
Romanian Revolution 1989

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