Center for Children's Literature Blog

Children’s Book Committee – November 2022 Pick

I Must Betray You
Written by Ruta Sepetys

The extreme deprivations of Romania’s authoritarian Ceaușescu regime drive Cristian, 17, to spy on an American diplomat to secure medicine for his grandfather. Historical notes, lengthy bibliography.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

“One of my favorite books of the year. The Cold War story exposes the tribulations of living under the Ceaușescu dictatorship in Romania. The historical fiction is relevant in exposing this past history that still plays a part in current global conflict. I studied the Cold War for the USAD Academic Pentathlon in 2021. This book lays a foundation of inquiry for Middle Grade and YA readers. It was exceptional.

The story arc of the main character, Cristian, is masterful. The mistrust and spy elements of the book kept me guessing and rooting for different characters at different parts of the story. All of the characters grow together as they respond to the political unrest of their country, community and families. This was historical fiction but was well researched and accurate. It helped me to think critically about the current Russian/Ukrainian war in Europe.”

–Quade, age 13, Encinitas, CA.


Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our Monthly Picks Archive 2012–2018, and our Monthly Picks 2019–present.