The cover of the book "I Must Betray You" next to a headshot of the author Ruta Sepetys

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Internationally acclaimed Ruta Sepetys will return to campus for Northern State University’s annual Larry and Julie Poeppel Family Common Read Lecture on Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. In 2017, Sepetys delivered the lecture on her novel “Salt to the Sea.”

The lecture will be held in Harvey and Cynthia Jewett Theater in the Johnson Fine Arts Center. It is open to the public and free to attend.

“We are very excited to welcome Ruta Sepetys back to Northern for our 15th annual Common Read! Ruta was here in 2017 and we’re fortunate that she’s returning to speak again,” said Dan Shannahan, assistant professor of management and interim Honors Program director.

This year, Sepetys will present her latest historical fiction novel “I Must Betray You,” which was awarded the Yoto Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medal. She won the Carnegie Medal in 2017 for “Salt to the Sea.”

“I Must Betray You” is set in Romania in 1989, during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, who uses isolation and fear to keep the citizens under control. When Cristian Florescu, a 17-year-old with dreams of becoming a writer, is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer, he’s left with two choices: betray everyone or undermine an evil dictator.

Sepetys is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction and has been published in over 60 countries and 40 languages. Her novels are enjoyed by students and adults. Born in Michigan, she is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee raised in a family of artists, readers and music lovers. Sepetys is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented people in history.

“Faculty, staff, and students worked together to select “I Must Betray You” for the Common Read, and we can’t wait for the Northern and Aberdeen communities to hear about the work directly from its author,” said Shannahan.

About the Northern Common Read

Now in its 15th year, Northern’s annual Common Read program has grown into the largest academic event on Northern’s campus, attracting internationally recognized authors. The event is hosted by the Northern Honors Program and supported through a generous endowment by the Larry and Julie Poeppel family. To learn more, contact Shannahan at