From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up—Molnar re-creates memories and family stories of living in postwar Romania, fleshing them out with dialogue that, while not exact, remains true to the essence of her experiences, resulting in a readable, informative, and engaging book. The only child living in a crowded flat with seven adults representing three generations, Eva is often the center of attention of her frequently squabbling anti-Communist relatives. Her life becomes more complicated when she discovers at the age of seven that she is Jewish. She tries to understand what this means, particularly in light of her father's undiscussed but hinted-at war experiences, but for once gets little help from her family. In the late 1950s, Eva's family begins the long process of applying to immigrate to Israel, and their applications result in nerve-racking visits from Communist government agents who search their apartment. Once the grandparents leave, a non-Jewish family is assigned to their room, making it unsafe for the family to communicate with one another at home. The drama isn't over when Eva and her parents finally get the chance to leave; a less- desirable route and her father's return for a missing camera cause some tense days. Enough history and background are included to help today's readers understand the context of Eva's family's situation without detracting from the story. The book would make an interesting pairing with Peter SÃs's The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
(Farrar, 2007). Photographs of Molnar and her family are included.—Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library
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Molnar began life as Eva Zimmerman, an adored only child living in the apartment shared by her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles in Bucharest, Romania. The author’s loving but eccentric family sheltered her as much as possible from the harsh realities of life under communist rule, when food and housing were scarce and the Securitate, Romania’s secret police, watched and listened everywhere. Her father, a cinematographer, believed in science, not God, and neither religion nor World War II were spoken of at home, so it came as a huge shock to Molnar when she learned in 1958 that her entire family had applied to emigrate to Israel and that she is Jewish. All I know is that yesterday I wasn’t Jewish and today I am, says Molnar in describing her struggle to understand her new identity. As Eva pieces together her family’s history, a vivid story emerges, ranging from funny, tender moments of family life to the horrific revelations of the Romanian holocaust, about which little has been written. Black-and-white family photos illustrate this poignant, memorable offering. Grades 6-9. --Lynn Rutan