This gut-wrenching novel set in 1969 Czechoslovakia focuses on three teens, each outside the norm and vulnerable for different reasons and each closely connected to Pavol, a boy who dies after setting himself on fire in a protest against harsh government oppression.---from the publisher


Three teens struggle to carve out futures for themselves under a totalitarian regime.

Czechoslovakia, 1969

Seventeen-year-old Pavol has watched his country's freedoms disappear in the wake of the Soviet Union's invasion. He's seen his own dreams disappear too. In a desperate, fatal act of protest against the oppressive new government, he sets himself on fire in public, hoping to motivate others to fight for change.

Instead, Pavol's death launches a government investigation into three of his closest friends. Štěpán finds his Olympic hockey ambitions jeopardized and must conceal his sexual orientation from authorities who could use it against him. Tomáš has already been accused of “antisocial” behavior because he struggles to follow the unwritten rules of everyday interactions, and now he must work even harder to meet the expectations of his father, the regional leader of the communist party. And aspiring film director Lída, Pavol’s girlfriend, is pregnant with his child, which brands her a traitor by association and upends all her plans.

With their futures hanging in the balance, all three must decide whether to keep struggling to survive in the country Pavol died hoping to save . . . or risk a perilous escape to the other side.---from the publisher

328 pages 978-1728415680 Ages 13-18

Keywords: historical fiction, 20th century, Europe, freedom, oppression, government, survival, LGBTQ, communism, prejudice and racism, European history, 13 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old

Read Alike: I Must Betray You

User reviews

Have you read this book? We'd love to hear what you think. Click the button below to write your own review!