Book Review: City of Thieves

Set during the 1941 siege of Leningrad, this surprisingly engaging coming of age story follows seventeen-year-old Lev Beniov in his daily struggles to survive. The only one caught looting the body of a dead Nazi, Lev was thrown into prison where he shared a cell with Kolya, an accused deserter. Both offences carry a death sentence but instead, Colonel Grechko offers them a deal, procure a dozen eggs so his daughter can have a real wedding, complete with a cake in exchange for their lives. What follows is a tight knit series of vignettes that move the story forward as the two “thieves” attempt the impossible while moving through enemy lines and dealing with the mean streets of a city under siege.

In a classic pairing, the shy, awkward, sex obsessed Lev is an excellent foil for Kolya’s outgoing, overly confident personality. Self-deprecating humor and dry wit keep the tone bright despite the harsh, depressing setting. By the story’s end, Lev and Kolya have formed a genuine friendship while transforming into men in a touching tale that will leave readers cheering.

 

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