Summary: Lina, a young girl preparing for art school and summer break has lived a peaceful and love-filled life. When Russia invades Lithuania and forces families into train cars, Lina’s life changes in a way she’d never expected. Forced to work in a labor camp in Siberia, Lina tries to keep hope even though she was separated from her father. This is a journey of survival in the worst of times.
I listened to the audiobook version of this and I really enjoyed it. I liked hearing the pronunciations of the names and places. The narrator did a wonderful job with tone and the voices of different characters as well. The one thing I missed since I listened to the audiobook was the maps in front of the book and I love maps!
This is not a happy book, let me say that first. Most likely it will make you cry, even though I didn’t, I wanted to. It’s one of those books that’s hauntingly beautiful. The words chill you and you won’t forget the story for many, many years.
Lina is a very likable character: she’s kind and intelligent as well as very loving. Even in the darkest of time, she managed to have a small seed of hope and sometimes that’s all you need. She stands up for what’s right. She knows her capture is not right and in her drawings she secretly criticizes the Russians. Her drawings also give her hope as she sends them through people in hopes that they’ll reach her father.
I loved the family dynamic between Lina, her brother and her mother. It was amazing how long they were able to stay together for. Her mother is such a courageous woman, there were many times were she shines in this book. She manages to keep Lina from giving up completely and if it wasn’t for her mother or Jonas, Lina probably would have given up long before she went to the North Pole.
Overall I liked this book because it is a trial of strength. Lina faces death, starvation, being overworked and freezing almost every day in the labor camps. I would recommend this book to lovers of Historical fiction and coming of age stories.