Traitor by Amanda McCrina
Poland, 1944. After the Soviet liberation of Lwów from Germany, the city remains a battleground between resistance fighters and insurgent armies, its loyalties torn between Poland and Ukraine. Seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolenko is half Ukrainian, half Polish, and he joined the Soviet Red Army to keep himself alive and fed. When he not-quite-accidentally shoots his unit’s political officer in the street, he’s rescued by a squad of Ukrainian freedom fighters. They might have saved him, but Tolya doesn’t trust them. He especially doesn’t trust Solovey, the squad’s war-scarred young leader, who has plenty of secrets of his own.
Then a betrayal sends them both on the run. And in a city where loyalty comes second to self-preservation, a traitor can be an enemy or a savior—or sometimes both.
Publisher: Macmillan/Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Publication date: August 25, 2020
This is going to be a short review. As you can tell by the title, there are traitors in the book and I don’t want to give anything away.
Traitor is told back and forth in time. Tolya from 1944 and Aleksy from 1941. There are crossovers in both timelines and you’ll want to pay attention. I struggled a bit remembering names and factions, but there is a list you can use if needed. Traitor is fictional, but also based off real events (see author’s note). Ukraine, Russia, Poland, and Germany are all involved, but there is a big focus on Ukraine/Polish in the book. Mostly because of the two main characters/pov. Tolya shoots one of his own officers and has to run. He wants Koval to come with, but she refuses. Before he runs, he’s taken by who he believes to be NKVD. Solovey runs the squad. He says that they extracted Tolya. Things happen and they end up sticking together even though Tolya doesn’t trust him.
In the earlier timeline, Aleksy has a younger brother, Mykola, that he wants to protect at all costs. They end up on the run with a boy named Adriy. There are traitors in both timelines. People get shot and killed. There are deaths that don’t really happen. It’s fairly fast paced and hard to put down. I’m not a big reader of historical fiction, especially war books. But I knew the mystery in this would keep me reading. The ending did frustrate me.
Sorry my review is quite the mess. There’s just too much and I don’t want to say the wrong things.
I gave this book 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher for my earc and physical arc.
Warnings for ethnic cleansing, talk of suicide, war, malnutrition, starvation/hunger, knives, guns, and a lot of blood.
Amanda McCrina was homeschooled through high school and graduated from the University of West Georgia with a BA in history and political science. For three years, she taught high school English and government at an international school in Madrid, Spain, and is now a bookseller in Franklin, Tennessee. She is represented by Jennie Kendrick at Red Fox Literary.
Thank you to Macmillan for asking me to be a part of their tour.