This is the heroic tale of Lina, her younger brother Jonas and mother Elena whose life was changed one night when he NKVD came to take them away. With simple writing, Ruta balances the atrocities with compassion and humanity. Through flashbacks, we see the stark contrast of what life was like at home, the time that her biggest worries where boys and admission to art school. The journey is captured by Lina through art and letters, there is always the assumption that this was only temporary and they would be reunited with their father and back home. Without having something like faith to hold onto, what was left? With no material objects, living conditions deplorable, life became all about survival and keeping that hope alive. The biggest irony is that they had to become the thieves and prostitutes that they were originally, falsely accused of being, out of sheer necessity.
Ruta Sepetys has written about a horrific, historical time that is hardly talked about. The beauty in the book is the hope, strength and compassion shines that through, making the depressing subject that much more bearable to hear. We have all been taught about the evils of Hitler, but he was not the only one. Having my maternal grandparents live through something similar (they were Latvian and Estonian) I was familiar with this tragic past. Be ready to have your eyes opened, this took place only 70 years ago!...more
I have to admit that I was super excited to read this solely because I loved Claudia Gray's Evernight series, but I was not sold on the premise. I wasI have to admit that I was super excited to read this solely because I loved Claudia Gray's Evernight series, but I was not sold on the premise. I was nervous to see Titanic and werewolves together. Thie idea of these two things together reminded me of a mashup, and to be honest I'm being picky on reading weres/vamps these days (overkill?).
This is the story of two people, on their way to American for a better life. Tess and Alec are leaving very different different lives behind: the one Tess was born into and the one forced upon Alec. Tess is a servant with the American dream, she hoped to quit her job and stay in America, having saved up money to start her new life. Alec, on the other hand, is the son of a millionaire, heir to an American steel company run by his father, who was bitten and turns werewolf every night. After possibly killing his friend one night as a wolf, he wants to hide away in America and live a quiet life where he won't harm anyone. There is another way that could change all this, with the help of a Brotherhood, but it's basically selling his soul.
Tess and Alec meet for the first time in England, where he saves her from being attacked in an alley. They notice each other again after boarding the Titanic, but she never suspected anything would come of them. This is, afterall, a time when wealth and class meant everything and she was only third class, Alec was first...but he was different. Aboard the ship, Tess also sees her attacker, whom she comes to know as Mikhail. It becomes apparent that it was not a random attack, there was something he wants from the family she works for and he'll stop at nothing to get it. She see's the hate between Alec and Mikhail and when she discovers what Alec is, the pieces fall together.
I enjoyed being transported back in time, when you either had it or you didn't; money and power were everything. Mixed in with this is the werewolf story. Although he could have everything, that was taken away when Alec was bitten. It was his circumstance and yes there was some action, but nothing too intense. Rather, I found myself wondering how Alec and Tess would make it, what they would do so that they could be together causing the werewolf angle to become more of a background story. I think the idea of power, as shown by Mikhail and the Brotherhood, was undeveloped. This could have been great if expanded on, I mean, who doesn't like a secret society?
The Titanic was a great setting for this story. We see the good life, dreams and we know how it ends. I wish we got to see more of the ship in all it's glory. For a majority of the book, this story could have taken place on any ship. It was not until the end, with 50 pages to go that we are reminded we are on the Titanic. It was this anticipation of the dreaded iceberg that had me flipping the pages eager for more, hoping that after all they had been through they would be amongst the few survivors and finally be together. A story of power struggles, secrets, and love with an unbelievable ending that sadly fell short for me.