Under a Red Sky: Mem­oir of a Child­hood in Com­mu­nist Romania

Haya Leah Molnar
  • Review
By – November 10, 2011
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 regime 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​.lau​renkramer​.net.

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