I Must Betray You

Content Overview

Overall Content



Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking


Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty


Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood


Potentially Intense Themes


**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

I Must Betray You

Ruta Sepetys

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.

Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.

Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?

-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.

Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.

My Opinion

“Mistrust is a form of terror. The regime pits us against one another. We can’t join together in solidarity because we never know whom we can trust or who might be an informer.”

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite historical fiction writers. She’s able to take a point of history that we all know, and add more details than we ever imagined. Proof of the accuracy is in her notes in the back of the book. I highly recommend reading those!

Romania is not a place I tend to think about when I think about communism (especially only a few decades ago!), but Septys has brought it to light and now I’ll never see the same again.

“Does the world know what’s happening in Romania? If they did . . . would they do something?”

It’s a heartbreaking story of what happens to a forgotten country. Other countries are eliminating communism, the Berlin Wall is falling. So why aren’t they noticing the starvation and dictatorship Ceaușescu enforces? He rules with a “perpetual sense of surveillance,” he admitted a man to an insane asylum for writing negative song lyrics about Romania, he denied the country of “food, electricity, truth, and freedom.”

“If communism is Paradise, why do we need barriers, walls, and laws to keep people from escaping?”

The more I learned, the more I was astonished at the capacity some have for cruelty. I also was stunned at their true ability to do almost nothing about it.

“How could we expect others to feel our pain or hear our cries for help when all we could do was whisper?”

I applaud Septys for bringing to light more atrocities than I ever imagined. She’s able to connect me with these stories enough that I feel better for knowing. Each time I am able to learn something new that sticks with me long after I’ve finished the book. She has the ability to be informative while still keeping it mild enough that almost anyone could read it.

Content Summary: The story is about a dictatorship similar to Hitler. While the actions are horrific, the author keeps the details mild enough for most readers. Example; Instead of experiencing a scalping, she has another character get emotional while trying to portray the incident. So while these stories may be too much for some, I believe most would benefit from reading this.

Thank you to Penguin Teen for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.

The book releases February 1, 2022.

Detailed Content Review



H***- 4

S***- 1

A**- 3


D***- 2

Bas****- 2

Religious Cursing



G**- 10


Derogatory terms etc-


Alcohol, Drugs, Smoking

Cigarettes and alcohol are used to barter.

A man smokes a cigarette.

A man smokes a cigarette.

A man was poisoned, leading to his death. 

A man smokes a cigarette. 

Intimacy, Sex, Immodesty

*No LGBTQ+ aspects included* 

“Women were periodically checked for pregnancy at their place of work. The makeshift gynecological exams by medical inspectors were disgusting and humiliating, not to mention unsanitary.”

A young woman tries to seduce a man (and has previously) for black market items. They are seen briefly in a car together but no details other than smeared lipstick. 

A young man kisses a young woman multiple times. 

A young woman kisses a young man.

A young man briefly kisses a young woman. 

Violence, Weapons, Crime, Blood

Many dogs attack a girl, tearing her skin. A young man remembers when stray dogs mauled and killed a baby in a stroller. 

A young man punches a young man. 

A mother slaps her teenage son. 

An elderly man’s body is found beaten with his hand bones crushed and feet clubbed. 

At a protest, security forces fire into the crowd killing civilians. 

A family listens to a recording of shots being fired into a crowd and people screaming and crying. 

A young man (college age?) is shot in the chest and falls. 

A young man is shot in the shoulder and arm, blood bursts. Many more shots are fired, the young man is lying in a pool of blood. Another is knocked unconscious. 

Many people are screaming and begging for mercy. 

A pool of blood and a patch of scalp are seen on the ground. A man is beaten, many others are caned. Then each person is beaten. A young man is beaten severely. 

A young woman tells of watching a man being scalped. 

A man punches a young man. He then hit him with a club. 

Officers club a man. 

It is said that soldiers drove vehicles over protestors. 

A young man was shot with a water cannon and his eye is now dangling from its socket. 

A man waved a gun around a crowded room. He pulls the trigger at a young woman’s forehead but it’s not loaded. 

A man is rumored to have killed himself. 

A young man has an arm amputated due to injuries.

A man and woman are shot by firing squad. 

A young woman’s body is found broken and bent. 

Potentially Intense Themes

The food and electricity rations make many hungry and cold. 

An elderly man is dying of leukemia. 

A premature baby died when the electricity was turned off, turning off his incubator.

Children are made to clean up a large pile of feces. 

**Any quotes from the book may be taken from the advance copy and therefore may not be fully accurate or correctly compare to the final copy of the book.

**As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 


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