The book starts in Leningrad in 1941 on the day when the government announced that Hitler had broken the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and invaded Russia. Tatiana, a young girl just shy of 17, is sent to buy up all the food she can while her family sends her twin brother off to a boy's camp where they hope he'll be safe. Tatiana doesn't sense the urgency and by the time she starts looking for food she can't find what the family needs. But, she is helped by a handsome stranger - a lieutenant in the Red Army.
|3 men burying victims of Leningrad seige from wikipedia|
The story continues to unfold as Leningrad becomes under siege: the infamous Siege of Leningrad which goes on for 900 days as the Russians bomb and attempt to starve the residents of the city. From Wikipedia: Civilians in the city suffered from extreme starvation, especially in the winter of 1941–1942. For example, from November 1941 to February 1942 the only food available to the citizen was 125 grams of bread, of which 50–60% consisted of sawdust and other inedible admixtures, and distributed through ration cards. For about two weeks at the beginning of January 1942, even this food was available only for workers and military personnel. In conditions of extreme temperatures (down to −30 °C (−22 °F)) and city transport being out of service, even a distance of a few kilometers to a food distributing kiosk created an insurmountable obstacle for many citizens. In January–February 1942, about 700–1,000 citizens died every day, most of them from hunger. People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death. This time period is graphically portrayed in this book.
|My photo of Stalin statue in Estonia, 2012|
While we follow Tatiana going through the seige of Leningrad, we follow Alexander as he rises through the ranks of the Russian army. Stalin was an incredibly harsh leader who let so many of his people die - both as soldiers and citizens. I talked more about Stalin at this post.
I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. I would have given it 5 if it weren't for the sexual content. You can always flip through these pages and enjoy a wonderful historical story!