28 November 2009

Under a Red Sky; Haya Leah Molnar

Under a Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania Under a Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania by Haya Leah Molnar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This memoir reminded me of Leaving Glorytown (they're even set at a similar time), exploring what it was like living under a Communist regime and what happens when you decide the Worker's Paradise isn't, well, paradise.

Here, Ms. Molnar's family is a group of Jews (something she's unaware of until about age 8) living in Bucharest. Her father was in a Nazi concentration camp and then Soviet lagers, her mother's family survived the war in Romania. Her stories of the deprivation they suffered (although the fact that they had a maid belies real deprivation!), and her experiences at school (she becomes a proud member of the Communist Pioneers) and with the non-family members she meets (her neighbor, Andrei, feels her head for Jewish horns) are engaging enough to interest readers a little tired of this genre.

One of the things I appreciated most was that in the foreword, we're told that the stories are based on memories enhanced by others' comments/stories: we are not expected to believe that at this remove, all dialog and events are remembered exactly as they happened. It would be great if other memoirists included the same disclaimer.

Free ARC provided by publisher.

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