Betrayal is a Matter of Life or Death


Nathanial Brown, 10th Grader at BCECHS

Traitor: A Novel of World War II, by Amanda McCrina is a World War II, Historical Fiction Novel. The book is currently being sold in the US for around $19 and each copy contains 368 pages. The “tightly woven” story follows seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolensko, who is half Polish and half Ukrainian. He joins the Red Army in order “to keep himself alive and fed.” Tolya ends up deciding to shoot the political officer for his unit (not accidental). After shooting his political officer he is rescued by a group of the Ukrainian Army. 


The novel’s second main character is Aleksey Kobryn, the older son of a Ukrainian Nationalist. From the first page of the novel readers are hooked on the amazing story behind Tolya. This book is an amazing read for any age group as there is no inappropriate language, however the reader does need a strong grasp of what was going on at the time (World War II). 


One important detail about the two characters’ stories is that Aleksey’s story takes place three years after Tolya’s story. Like most characters, Tolya is in love with a sharpshooter, Nataliya Koval. This novel is truly different from any other piece of literature I have ever read. In order to completely understand why the author chose “Traitor” as the title of the novel you must read until the very end. 


Towards the end of the novel, we see the internal conflict that Tolya is struggling with about trying to center his ethnic heritage, as he sees both sides of his family commit several atrocities. What made his decision of loyalty so hard was that he was a traitor to his father’s people because of his mother, and he was a traitor to his mother’s people because of his father. There really is no winning for Tolya. This book touches on several questions about philosophy and integrity when relating to war. This book is absolutely amazing and it will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout its entirety.