This is narrated by Lina, who is fifteen in the beginning. She, her mother, and her younger brother are pulled from their home and lugged by cattle car to a work camp. They deal with starvation, scurvy, beatings, and being hauled out of their huts in the middle of the night at gunpoint. Lina's mother must choose between spying for the Russians or watching her children starve. Lina battles with hatred for her captors and the teachings of forgiveness from her parents. All three wonder and worry constantly about their father and husband. Where is he?
From this camp, they are once again hauled away.. to Trofimovsk, the very top of the arctic circle where they deal with lice, scurvy, starvation, and trying to survive the cold, dark winter.
Through all of this misery, Lina experiences first love and tells their story in drawings that she hopes will reach her papa.
The entire novel is well told. There are flashbacks into Lina's past here and there that graudally reveal why she is in the camp.. I found this very well done. I don't normally like flashbacks, but this book does it "just so," not too much, not too little and only what you need to do.
This is actually made my eyes moist so five stars. Beautifully done and educating. I had no idea of this tragedy in history until now. Here is a part of Lina's narrative that just resonated with me, "The NKVD's hostilities strengthened my defiance. Why would I give in to people who spit in my face and tormented me each and every day? What would I have left if I gave them my self-respect?"
I received this ARC from the publisher via Shelf Awareness.