Cover Image: The Hunger Between Us

The Hunger Between Us

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

I really struggled with this story and it didn't help that I had put it down, picked it up, and put it back down again. The writing style is easy to follow and would appeal to all ages but I think I struggled with the plot. 

This story seemed to focus solely on finding a side character (Aka) when we learn very little about her story plus Liza's. I requested this book because it seemed similar to what I would read regarding historical fiction. However, it felt that the siege was just a quick mention and not shown to me as a reader. 

Perfect for: readers looking to try historical fiction, young adults, Russian history
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I've read many WW2 and Holocaust historical fiction books, I tend to collect them. But this one is now at the very top of my list. It was absolutely incredible. It was poignant, beautiful, insightful, and heartbreaking. The only other historical fiction that tops it is The Things We Cannot Say, which is a totally different type of book and honestly not one I even can personally compare to this book. I cannot wait until this book is released to own it, and to tell everyone I can that they must read it.
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In The Hunger Between Us, Marina Scott presents a side of World War II that is not often depicted, the excruciating siege of Leningrad by the Nazi army. As a YA novel, the story tackles difficult topics like desperate hunger, the lengths people will go to to survive, and the loss of faith and trust in humanity.

In the story, Liza is a teenager who has lost her mother, and she may as well have lost her father for all the help she gets from him. Instead, she relies on her wits, her speed, her quick hands that can snatch food or valuables from the black market to survive. When her best friend tells her about the Mansion, the headquarters of the Soviet secret police, she is horrified. Girls even more desperate than Liza and her fried Aka turn to the Mansion for food, but in return, they must provide "entertainment" for the brutal Soviet forces. Aka is desperate enough to try it, so when she doesn't appear for a few days, Liza assumes she is there, and she is determined to rescue her. To do so, she jeopardizes people who care about her, like Luka, the handsome boy she has dreamed of since before the war, and Maksim, a local militia member who collaborates with the NKVD but offers Liza help and food. As she leaves hurt and damaged people in her wake, Liza cannot find Aka or any news of her, and so her search becomes lonelier, more dangerous, and more desperate. When she gets too close to the truth, her own life will be on the line.

Marina Scott has given readers characters they can believe in. Liza's desperation is clear through her hunger and loneliness, so readers don't see her as a cruel monster but as a victim whose circumstances have made her cruel. Luka, on the other hand, has retained his humanity, even in the face of desperation. He is kind and giving, sacrificing his own comfort for others and caring for his sister and for Liza, until she endangers him and others. Maksim shows the lengths some people went to to survive, crossing their own values to secure work and food for themselves while using their power for good. And Liza's father shows the end of the spectrum, the depths people sunk to when conditions took away all hope.

Many YA readers will be drawn to the high stakes and setting of this story. The elements of The Hunters and the people in the tunnels will appeal to many readers, even those not normally drawn to historical fiction. While I would have loved for Liza to find the strength to think of others earlier in the story, she does show growth and redemption by the story's end, and many other characters, like Luka, Katya, and even Maksim, show the integrity and inner strength that I love to see in YA books.
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