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Shea, Christina
Adult Fiction SHEA

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Shea's second novel (after Moira's Crossing) begins strongly enough in 1943, when precocious five-year-old Eva is smuggled out of Hungary. To save Eva's life, her Jewish mother and gentile father drug her, tie her into a flour sack, and ship her by train to Romania. There, her father's sister takes her in, rechristening her Anca Balaj and speaking to her only in Romanian. Shea then forces Anca into situations to make political points about Ceausescu, communism, loyalty, and brutality. The once-willful child becomes a passive adult, and the story charges ahead, dragging her along with it. Emphasizing Eva/Anca's role as a victim is a carousel of unsavory lovers, including an abusive coach who breaks her jaw and a concentration camp survivor who supplements his dentist's income with "post-mortem extractions" of golden teeth. Though Shea writes vividly and has clearly done her homework, the story serves history better than fiction. Eva's eventual return to Hungary is marked by overwrought imagery and labored plotting, the opposite of what is needed: a glimpse into this woman's soul. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In the 20th century, Eastern Europe was ravaged by Nazism and then communism, a tragic history that forms the backdrop of Shea's quiet second novel (after Moira's Crossing). When Eva Farkas is five years old, she is smuggled out of Hungary in a flour sack by her desperate parents, who know what lies in store for them as Jews when the Germans invade during World War II. Eva lives in Romania with her father's gruff sister and brother-in-law, who rename her Anca Balaj; she must forget her past and speak only Romanian. As the war ends and a new set of oppressors impose their rule, Anca suffers smaller sorrows, including an attack ending the Ping-Pong career that promised something better. Always, she aches for escape, but only with the fall of communism can she again become Eva and return to Hungary to claim her legacy. VERDICT Shea is less intent on showing totalitarianism's horrors than its capacity to grind down the soul. At times too matter-of-fact, her story nevertheless delivers a sure sense of that grinding and pulls itself up with a luminous ending that will please most readers.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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