You could never really know what the word "starving" means if you have never been deprived of the food SOURCE. This novel by Helen Dumnore taught you to always be grateful for every single day of your life.
The Siege depicted the historical siege of Leningrad by German (Nazy) Army in World War II; the biggest prolonged siege in the history. The novel particularly focused on the most extreme part of the siege, i.e. the winter of September 1941 to February 1942. Food ration was down to only 125 grams bread per person per DAY. Can you imagine that? 125 grams for 24 hours! And when the temperature was down to -30 degree (Celsius); many people died from combination of starvation, malnutrition, and freeze. Food and fuel suddenly valued like gold, while money became worthless (you couldn't eat money no matter how rich you were!). The siege was prolonged until January 1944 (900 days in total), but at least a new access was available after the severe winter had passed, that food supply was gradually back to normal--food ration was still on, but at least they didn't have to starve.
The central characters of this historical novel are the working class family: Anna Mikhailovna, a young woman who lives with her father and her little brother Kolya. Then Marina Petrovna, a former actress and a friend of Anna's father, came to stay with them just before the city was besieged. Another important character was Andrei, a medical student who helped Mikhail (Anna's father) in war, and so he and Anna met and soon lived each other. These four adults and a little boy was a portrayal of how the city heroically held on and refused to surrender to the Nazi (Hitler's plan was to raze the city to the ground--another method of genocide?).
And so, amidst the famine, struggle of life, bombardment, and cannibalism (yes, there were some cases of starving people ate human flesh!), there grew love and hope, which I believe were two important keys of survival. From their heroic acts, I see humanity at its highest and strongest state, which no one could dream to destroy.
Two thumbs up for Dunmore for writing so vivid and compelling story of war and humanity.
Final verdict: 5 / 5