Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Smuggled by Christina Shea

Title: Smuggled
Author: Christina Shea
Publisher: Grove Press
Publish Date: July 5, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like a good historical fiction.
  • You like being able to see how characters change throughout time.
What's the Story?:

From "Sweeping from post–WWII rural Romania to the cosmopolitan Budapest of 1990, Christina Shea’s Smuggled is the story of Eva Farkas, who loses her identity, quite literally, as a young child when she is smuggled in a flour sack across the Hungarian border to escape the Nazis.
Five-year-old Eva is trafficked from Hungary to Romania at the end of the war, arriving in the fictional border town of Crisu, given the name Anca Balaj by her aunt and uncle and instructed never to speak another word of Hungarian again. “Eva is dead,” she is told. As the years pass, Anca proves an unquenchable spirit, with a lust for life even when political forces threaten to derail her at every turn. Time is layered in this quest for self, culminating in the end of the Iron Curtain and Anca’s reclaiming of the name her mother gave her. When Eva returns to Hungary in 1990, a country changing as fast as the price of bread, she meets Martin, an American teacher, and Eva’s lifelong search for family and identity comes full circle as her cross-cultural relationship with Martin deepens through their endeavor to rescue the boy downstairs from abuse.

An intimate look at the effects of history on an individual life,Smuggledis a raw and fearless account of transformation, and a viscerally reflective tale about the basic need for love without claims."

My Two Cents:

It's very rare that you get to spend so much time with a character. We get to spend almost 50 years with Eva/Anca to see how she changes from the time. We get to see her as a young girl when she doesn't really understand what's going on when she is taken from her parents and her home in Hungary to go live with her aunt and uncle in Romania in order to escape the Holocaust. She has to take on a new identity and at such a young age, she almost forgets who she once was. After the war, Eva is suddenly reminded of her past when someone she once knew comes back in her life and could threaten to unravel her new persona and identity.

I love historical fictions about the WWII time period. This one covers that time period and beyond. The book also takes place in Romania and Hungary, two countries that I'm not particularly familiar with so it was cool to read about both places. Also, just having been in Ukraine, I've started being interested in countries that were in the Soviet Bloc the places Smuggled talked about were. I thought it was interesting to see what life was like in those countries, which were further away from Moscow and therefore seemed to have it a little bit better than Ukraine.

This book is pretty good. At one point though (and I don't want to give anything away), it got really, really depressing and hard to read. I understand that those times and the things that Eva was going through were not happy but it just seemed too much almost. I was happy when the book started picking back up.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a fresh WWII and beyond historical fiction, this is a great choice.


  1. Wow! I love a good historical fiction and if this doesn't fit into my category of books I crave, I don't know what would. Thanks for putting this on the radar!

  2. Don't know if I'm in the mood for a depressing read right now but maybe some dreary winter day I'll pick this up :)

    Great review!


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