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Traitor Blog Tour: Guest Post & Review

Thank you for stopping by today and visiting my blog. I asked Amanda to write a guest post about homeschooling and how it affected her writing. I thought it may be a fun post with so much distance learning that is going on nowadays. I was homeschooled for highschool so schooling from home isn't a foreign concept to me. I would love for you to get the chance to read Amanda's post. Leave comments below if you have thoughts.

Traitor: A Novel of World War II

Poland, 1944. After the Soviet liberation of Lwów from Germany, the city remains a battleground between resistance fighters and insurgent armies, its loyalties torn between Poland and Ukraine. Seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolenko is half Ukrainian, half Polish, and he joined the Soviet Red Army to keep himself alive and fed. When he not-quite-accidentally shoots his unit's political officer in the street, he's rescued by a squad of Ukrainian freedom fighters. They might have saved him, but Tolya doesn't trust them. He especially doesn't trust Solovey, the squad's war-scarred young leader, who has plenty of secrets of his own.

Then a betrayal sends them both on the run. And in a city where loyalty comes second to self-preservation, a traitor can be an enemy or a savior—or sometimes both

Amanda McCrina Guest Post

I was homeschooled all the way through high school, which probably isn’t as shocking to hear now as it was back when I was in high school. Homeschooling is a little more mainstream these days—though I think we probably all wish it weren’t quite as mainstream as it’s become in this year 2020.

My senior year, the curriculum I used was heavily literature-based, by which I mean there were no textbooks; the way it tackled different subject areas—history, government, English, geography—was to have you read topical literature (both fiction and nonfiction) about them. Whether that’s really the most effective teaching method is a debate for another day, but as an avid reader who hated boring old workbooks, I definitely appreciated it at the time. I do think it’s a good way to approach history in particular.

Traitor started out as a short writing project for my world history class that year. The assignment was to take any of the areas I’d studied, do some further research, and write a short story in that setting. I’d done a unit study of Soviet Russia and had just finished reading Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and independently I’d come across Alan Furst’s novel Night Soldiers in the library, so the Soviet experience was on my mind. I knew I wanted my story to be a WWII story because I was already a WWII buff, thanks in large part to Stephen Ambrose’s books and the Band of Brothers miniseries and to having an older brother who was a WWII buff. I decided to write about the Soviet side of the war.

My main character was a young Soviet sniper orphaned in the Holodomor, the engineered famine in 1930s Soviet Ukraine. He starts to question his role in the Soviet war effort and decides to desert his unit and escape through the Carpathian Mountains to Greece. He’s hunted the whole way by his former girlfriend, revealed (gasp!) to be an agent of the NKVD, the Soviet secret police.

That short story was called “Loose Ends,” and it was a bit more sensational and far-fetched than Traitor (I hope). But the process of researching and writing it planted seeds that stayed with me. I first learned about the UPA (the Ukrainian nationalist group that plays such a large part in Traitor) while researching “Loose Ends.” And that conflicted young sniper wrestling with his identity and role stuck with me. Fast forward eight years—eight years in which my mom, my original audience and fan base, asked me again and again when I was going to turn that story into a novel—and I brought “Loose Ends” back out, dusted it off, and started drafting the rewrite that would become Traitor.

I have complicated feelings about my homeschooling experience in general, but I am grateful for the way that curriculum got me thinking about using literature as a way to humanize and translate history for a modern audience. I’m convinced nothing makes history come alive as well as good historical fiction, and my hope is that Traitor does that with this relatively unknown corner of WWII.


I was very excited to dive into Traitor by Amanda McCrina. I was excited to know that the author was homeschool and she wrote a book about one of my favorite subjects. This book takes place during World War II. I think this novel keeps the readers on its toes with all the twists and turns it has. The title fits the story so well. I really enjoyed that the story took place in a different part of the war than you normally read about. Our main character is Ukrainian and Polish. The story takes place between the Ukraine and Poland.

This novel is about two young men who are caught up in all of the fighting of the war. There is so much devastation and heartbreak that they witness. I found that sometimes the timelines could be a bit confusing but you find how these two men's lives are intertwined and connected. I personally feel like there is always something learn from books even if they are fiction. I am glad that I got a chance to read this book.

About the Author:

Amanda McCrina was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History and Political Science from the University of West Georgia. She currently lives in Franklin, Tennessee.

She writes historical fiction for teens and political fantasy for adults.

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