What was Romania like in the years after the Holocaust? What was it like, living as a Jew in a Communist country during that time? In Under a Red Sky, we hear the answers to those questions, told in the childhood voice of Eva Zimmerman. Zimmerman grew up an only child in a home shared by her parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles, and didn’t have a clue that she was Jewish until she turned 10. Eva’s voice is believable and authentic and her portrayal of the adults around her is vivid. We share her confusion at being left uninformed of her identity by a father who barely speaks to her, a mother who scarcely divulges her former life as a ballerina and an aunt who chain-smokes in her bedroom all day. Her family is vehemently anti-communist and in hushed tones they voice their frustrations at the régime and the punitive measures imposed on the family. Once they have submitted passport applications in the hopes of leaving the country for Israel, those measures become more extreme. Eva’s parents lose their jobs and her mother is followed by the secret service when she tries to expedite the passports. At school, Eva is indoctrinated by her teacher, Comrade Popescu, on the joys of communism and the importance of being proud of her heritage. She dare not relay the opinions that surround her at home for fear of putting everyone at risk. In Under a Red Sky, Eva reveals the double life she led as a child, and the colorful personalities that surrounded her in her formative years. This book is written in a delightfully refreshing tone, combining interesting information about Communist Romania in the perspective of a Jewish child. Grades 8 – adult.
Lauren Kramer is a Vancouver-based journalist, wife, and mother with a lifelong passion for literature. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writing and reported from many corners of the world. Read more of her work at www.laurenkramer.net.