When the enemy is everywhere, it’s impossible to hide.
Readers might not think it’s a great risk to watch a movie. Or write stories. Or publish poems. But in Romania in 1989, these are all crimes punishable by kidnapping, torture, even death. Any act that goes against the Communist Party and its leader is a threat, and spies are everywhere. Ileana’s sense of danger sharpens when she and her parents discover their apartment has been bugged. What might the secret police have heard? Do they know about Ileana’s own habit of writing stories? Ileana is sent to her mother’s estranged parents’ village high in the mountains, for safety. There, she discovers lessons in loyalty, bravery, and friendship that prove essential when she’s faced with her greatest challenge. Historical fiction interwoven with parallel, altered fairy tales, Kramer’s debut novel is rich with connections to today’s world while easily sidestepping the pitfall of heavy-handedness. Ileana is a charming, complex character who stumbles and makes mistakes as she builds up confidence, bravery, and wisdom against a wonderfully imagined backdrop populated with fascinating secondary characters. Her role in battling the Securitate is both inspiring and believable. Characters are pale-skinned Eastern Europeans.
A thrilling, emotional tale of one girl’s experience of the fall of Communism in Romania. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-14)