Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc
Pub date: 5 July 2011
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Five-year old, Eva Farkas, is smuggled from Hungary into Romania in order to escape the Nazis. Her stay with her aunt and uncle becomes permanent and Eva is forced to lose her personality and take on the persona of Anca Balaj. From World War II to the end of the Iron Curtain, this is a story of her search for home and love and her struggle to find meaning and security.
In this story, set against the backdrop of a political and social struggle, we see Eva change from a willful, imaginative child to a young woman who learns to fit in – so that she can stay safe. As a child, Eva’s Aunt Kati is very strict with her – insisting that she use her new name and language so that no one will find out who she really is. As she grows up, Eva makes this choice again and again, choosing safety over personal freedom. She loses her sense of self. But Eva is also lucky enough to meet a few people who really care about her and influence her thinking.
The historical aspects are what drew me to this story in the first place, since I don’t know too much about this part of the world and the history of the time. And while I now have a little more insight into the history, the novel itself did not work for me.
The story is a powerful one, but I just didn’t enjoy the read. Eva’s character left me cold and I just didn’t feel like I understood her with any depth. I couldn’t connect with her. Through all the losses, traumas and difficulties, I just didn’t get a sense of outrage, anger, sadness or fear from her.
On top of that, the pacing of the story was awkward and the writing rather stilted. This was a powerful story that just didn’t live up to its potential.
Smuggled has a powerful theme, but was ultimately a disappointing read for me.
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