The latter part of the year, I got so busy, and I read so much, that I got behind on my book reports. I'm going to try to catch up on just the ones that were really good.
"City of Thieves" by David Benioff. (not to be confused with City of Thieves by Ian Livingston)
Loosely based on the life of David Benioff's grandfather, Lev Beniov, "City of Thieves" is the story of Lev, a teen Russian Jew during WWII. He's arrested for looting (trying to find food, money, anything of value, off a dead German who died while parachuting over Leningrad.) Of all his mates, Lev is captured by his own people for breaking curfew and thrown in jail with a deserter named Kolya; handsome, dashing, full of stories (and full of other things, if you get my drift). Rather than being executed, the two are sent on a mission by a Soviet colonel; to get a dozen eggs for the colonel's daughter's wedding.
Now, everyone is starving. The Germans have cut off supplies or have stolen pretty much everything in sight. Lev and Koyla have a hard mission ahead of them.
They see the utter baseness of a humanity confronted with hunger. They eventually have to infiltrate enemy territory in search of these precious eggs. Along the way, they meet Koyla's friends, then a house full of Russian women in the woods being maintained in return for sex with the Germans, and also a group of rebels wanting to take out a German troop.
All the while, we're getting to know Lev, a shy, self-deprecating teen who just wants to make it out alive, and Koyla, a brash young man full of spunk, wit and stories galore. Their friendship is an odd one but it solidifies through the hunt. At one point, they are captured and Kolya's brashness and utter confidence saves Lev from being found out as a Jew by the Germans.
I cried. I smiled. I had hope in the human condition and affection for David Benioff's grandfather Lev and grandmother, who we do meet in the story. The rest of the story would be a spoiler if I spoke of it.