Review by Emily Lloyd
It’s winter in St. Petersburg during the siege of Leningrad, and 17-year-old Lev has never been so tired, hungry or cold. When a parachute carrying an already-dead German soldier surreally floats down to land in his street, Lev checks the man’s body for food and is picked up for looting. On the same night, Kolya, a cocky, handsome, 20-something Russian soldier, is arrested by the Soviet police for desertion. Thrown in a cell together, the young men expect to be killed in the morning. Instead, the colonel in charge gives them what seems an impossible task: to find, in a week’s time, a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake. If they can pull this off in a country under siege by those who would kill them on sight, where people are eating rats to survive and no one’s seen an egg in months, freedom will be theirs. If they fail, they’ll be executed. Over the next week, Lev will make his best friend, witness brutalities beyond what he’s ever imagined, meet the girl he’ll one day marry, and kill a man – but the best thing about the book might just be the banter between him and Kolya as they slog through the frozen countryside on the hunt.