Parents' Guide to

Traitor: A Novel of World War II

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dark historical page-turner is thrilling and insightful.

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This well-researched and executed historical thriller immerses readers in the stories of two young soldiers, each accused of being a traitor to a different cause in WWII. By setting the story in the occupied Galician city of Lwow, McCrina chronicles and explores all of the various armies and resistance groups willing to shed blood to claim it -- the Germans, the Russians, the Poles, and Ukrainians, as well as political and religious factions. The novel is best for patient and mature teen readers who should begin with the back matter: a list of military and paramilitary forces as well as an extensive author's note about the history of the region. Then they'll better understand the context and setting. Another important note: While the audiobook is wonderfully narrated, the discrepancy between the points of view and years depicted make this novel much easier to follow in print.

The two timelines and perspectives mean some important milestones and events happen off the page and that a few heartbreaking moments in 1941 are more fully explained in the 1944 timeline. There's a tiny bit of romance, but it's explored in a unique way that doesn't worry itself with a standard beginning, middle, and ending. The women characters are strong but secondary, and they range from a middle-aged resistance fighting nurse to two young and beautiful soldiers/partisans. McCrina shows a great deal of skill and is a new and energetic voice in YA historical fiction. Traitor would be a particularly helpful enrichment novel for middle and high-school students studying world history and WWII.

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