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A few days ago, something happened. If it had not happened, it wouldn’t have been told. What happened was this: I picked up The Story That Cannot Be Told at the library. I did this without knowing that this book would be so very fantastic that I want to learn more about Romania, and of course, get my own copy!

The story focuses on a very relatable ten-year-old girl named Ileana. She acts a lot like I feel I acted as a ten-year-old, though of course, I didn’t experience any of the things she experienced. Ileana lives under the hand of the “Leader,” as she calls him throughout the whole story. Ileana writes of how life was back when the “Leader” wasn’t in power, though she’s only ever heard about it in the stories her parents tell. Ileana loves stories, and writes them in her “Great Tome,” not knowing that her life will soon be turned upside down. When her uncle is presumed dead for writing poetry against the “Leader” and his regime it becomes dangerous for Ileana to stay with her family. She is sent to the grandparents she has never met, in rural Romania. Ileana knows nothing of her grandparents and their town except for what her mother has told her. When she arrives she meets a new friend and learns how to farm with her grandparents. As time goes on, Ileana grows close to this town and must fight to defend it with nothing but bravery, her friend, and the power of stories.

This book also carries a story within the story, the story of cunning Ileana, for whom Ileana was named. Cunning Ileana must go against her own sisters to survive in a world that is against her father, whom she dearly loves.

This book, like all good books do, made me angry at many of the characters, and some parts made me eager to see what happened next. As a plus, the cover is lovely. Ileana’s character development is noticeable, as she transforms from a little girl who loves to write stories, to an older, braver girl, who still loves to write stories!

In the end, The Story That Cannot Be Told is a spectacular tale about family, courage, and the power of stories. Everyone between the age of 8 and 800 should read this book, especially people who love history and stories.

The Story That Cannot Be Told by J. Kasper Kramer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. Buy the book here and help support Stone Soup in the process!

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