This is, quite possibly, my most favorite book ever. When I first started reading it, it took me about 2 weeks to actually get past the first chapter. But when I did, I believe I stayed up the entire night, well into the early morning, finishing it. I could not put it down! Paullina Simons draws you in, and you feel as if you are drowning in Tatiana and Alexander. It's a wonderful feeling.
This book opens up on June 22, 1941, the start of the war for the Soviet Union. Hitler has just invaded Russia, and the Metanovs start to take action. Tatiana lives with her twin brother, Pasha, and they are both about to turn 17. Also living with them are Mama and Papa, Babushka and Deda, and her sister Dasha, who is 24. Papa sends Pasha off to a boys camp in Tolmachevo, thinking he is saving his only son from being forced to join in the war effort. Dasha and her grandparents go to take all the money out of the bank, and Tatiana is given 200 rubles and told to go to the store to gather food. After everyone leaves, and Tatiana is alone, the excitement of the war announcement has worn off, she lays down to read. Finally deciding to get up and go about her orders, she dresses up. After all, it is Sunday.
She doesn't realize how important it was for her to get out as soon as she could, for all the stores are selling out fast of all their items. She buys an ice cream while she decides what to do. When she looks up from her bench on Ulitsa Saltykov-Schedrin, she sees Alexander, a First Lieutenant in the Red Army, staring at her with a look she has never seen before. Alexander helps her to find the items Papa requested, and Tatiana discovers that Alexander is the boy that Dasha was telling her about! Being the ever self sacrificing sister, she tells Alexander to not break her sister's heart. Alexander listens, but his heart belongs to Tatiana.
As the book goes on, and the blockade of Leningrad heads into winter, people are dying just walking to the store to get their rations. This part of the book is dark, depressing, but very important to the plot of the story. You get to see just how strong Tatiana really is. These chapters really haunted me even after I had put the book down. I really cannot go on more about this book without giving away important spoilers on the remainder!
It is a wonderful book, beautifully written, and one I have read over 10 times in the past couple of years. I highly recommend this book to anyone. In fact, I have recommended this book to pretty much everyone I know. It has secured a place in my heart!