I Must Betray You

Ruta Sepetys has written a sobering account of life in Romania in 1989 under the ruthless dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. It is told through the eyes of a young man, Christian Florescu, who dreams of life beyond the grey existence that Romanians were subjected to on a daily basis. Electricity was routinely turned off, hours of time spent standing on food lines would yield a dented can of beans out of date by 2 years, or maybe an onion the size of an olive. Worst of all were the Secu, the secret police who amassed thousands of informants, even family members, who would turn in family for a benefit such as extra food. Yet the heroics of many Romanians in 1989, after learning of neighboring Communist Bloc countries who revolted against oppressive rule to earn freedom, enabled Romania to finally overthrow the evil Ceausescus, whose daughter had gold-plated bathroom faucets, while most of her fellow countrymen were starving, or being tortured in prisons for speaking out. Christian’s character keeps a hidden notebook of all the atrocities, and delivers it to an American diplomat, in order to highlight what was happening in his country. This is a must read for all, as a wake-up call to not take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in this country, especially in 2022, with Ukraine fighting for their freedom from another ruthless dictator.

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