my challenges

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Under a Red Sky

Under a Red Sky, by Haya Leah Molnar.

This is a memoir of the author's childhood as a Jew growing up in Communist Romania in the 1950's and early 1960's.

To be perfectly honest, this book was a bit of a disappointment.  Rather than having a plot, per se, it seemed to unfold more as a series of snapshots of incidents in her young life, and I felt as if the story suffered for the lack of plot tying everything together and keeping things moving.  In addition, virtually none of the characters, beyond the author herself and one or two others -- most notably her young neighbor and schoolmate and one of the merchants at the open air market -- were the least bit sympathetic.  One got the impression that the author either disliked or was embarrassed by virtually her entire family.  As a result, it was really hard to work up any real interest in what happened to them.  Furthermore, while classified as young adult non-fiction, anyone without a prior awareness of the Communist Romanian society, and particularly a young adult, will likely be a bit confused by the references to the Securitate that are scattered throughout the book without any real in depth explanation of who they were, what their function was, and what their relationship to the government leaders was.

I do have to admit that there is one wickedly funny scene about 2/3 of the way through the book, where they are preparing for a costume party.  That one scene, however, is not enough to save this book from the glowering cloud of darkness that permeates this book.  Unfortunately, I would not recommend this book, and probably would not have finished it had I not been reading it for the European Reading Challenge.  2 out 5.

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