Smuggled - Christina Shea NO SPOILERS!!!

Last night I finished the book. For me it is a four star book. Now you know I do not give a plot synopsis of a book. If you want that, please read the book description. I try and explain why I like a book or dislike it, if that should be the case. I do this because people seek different things from books. I try and explain what the given book gave me. Through the details I give, I am hoping you can judge if the book is one you wish to read. There is no book that fits everybody! What I dislike in a book may be exactly what another reader is looking for. When I read a review I want to know why they liked the book or why they didn't like the book. I want the specifics. In my reviews I try and give you what I seek when I read a review. I make the assumption you want what I want! What else can I go by?!

What I liked about this book was, number one, the dialogue. It made me laugh and chuckle. Secondly, I thought that Anca/Eva, the main character, was very well portrayed. When she is young you felt she was young, in the way she behaved and in the things she said. As she aged, you felt that too. She aged, and yet her inner character reamined constant. You knew this was the same person, just a bit older, more experienced, more battered by life. Thirdly, I liked learning the history of Romania and Hungary from the 40s through to 1990. Rather than just being given dry facts, you see how the events played out for different individuals. And we are talking about ordinary individuals. Then finally, even the ending was good. A central theme of the whole book is concerned with home. Where is home? Is it a place? If it is a place, is it where we live, or where we are born or what our identity papers say? Or is home something we find inside ourselves? Oh, another thing I liked was that love isn't given the stereotypical definition. Love has all different forms, and people can love different people at different times for differnt reasons. As you all know, I am very, very restrictive with my stars. 4 stars feels just right for this book. I hope I have given you enough information to help you decide if this book is one you want to read. This paragraph is just a summary on completion of the book. Please see below for more details and also excerpts, if writing style is as important to you as it is to me!

Having read 73%: I simply had to stop and exclaim - I like this book a lot! Primarily it is about the life of an illegal immigrant in Romania, but it has so much more. Yes, yes, Anca has the necessary papers, but her life trajectory still prevents her from pushing the limits too far. Don't expect a coddled lifestyle. You learn about life behind the Iron Curtain. You learn about how it felt when that barrier fell. You learn about life under Ceausescu. When Anca finally returns to Szeged, Hungary, in 1990, at the age of 50, you, the reader, are confronted with the wonder of a ripe banana or a strong plastic shopping bag stamped with the Coca-Cola insignia.

I stopped reading to throw out a quote. How would you feel if you rented an apartment and in your absence the landlady came in and rearranged your kitchen shelves, moved your drying dishcloth, folded your apron? Angry, just as you or I would be, Anca/Eva stamps up to the woman's apartment and explodes:

Mrs. G├ęza, I will set a trap for you, like for a rat.

I like the dialogue! And I am drawn by the book's philosophical question - where is a person's home? How do you define home?

Having read 35%: I am reading an egalley of [b:Smuggled|10148602|Smuggled|Christina Shea||15046912]. This is historical fiction. You learn about life in Hungary and Romania after WW2 through the experiences of one Hungarian child smuggled into Romania from Hungary. Portrayal of Anca, as she is called in Romania, is wonderful. The ability of the author to present her as a three year old and then later as an older child is remarkable. Often an author is unable to present a character well at different ages. Christina Shea has done this wonderfully. The main protagonist is born in 1940. The story will continue through to 1990. I think. There is humor. The characters and the narrative feel true to life. People are NOT stereotyped. They are real. They are a mixture of good and bad qualities. Oh, and there is a dog too. Even he behaves like a real dog would behave. He is called Carol after a former Romanian King. History is intertwined seamlessly with the story. And you see again and again how historical events have had a huge impact on the lives of common people, all the thousnads who have no role in the making of political decisions.

For those of you who, like me, need to taste a particular author's writing style, I will add an excerpt:

When he (Anca's Uncle) opened up the door, his face softened at the sight of her (Anca) and he swept her into an embrace. She could smell the liquor on him. "I am destitute over Carol!" he cried. The dog had died only the day before, although he had been sick for months apparently, a tumor. Anca had never seen Uncle cry, even when B- died. He was halway through a bottle of vodka, squeezing the tears out of his eyes and wiping his face with his sleeve, then tossing back the drink. He showed her out onto the balcony, where the dog lay in a cardboard box. He had wrapped Carol in a newly purchased bedsheet patterned with forget-me-nots.

This excerpt is thaken 32% of the way through the book and in the chapter dated 1957. I do not have a page number. What do you see? You see an elderly, struggling man with plenty of faults, but also a soul.

There is another point where Anca's Auntie says Anca will be mistaken for a gypsy. Heaven forbid, but gypsies were very much discriminated against in Romania in the 50s. Anca quips: "Gypsies don't carry tennis racquets around with them, Auntie." I like such humor. This is found just a little after the previous excerpt.

So yes, I am thoroughly enjoying myself! I believe the book will be published in July. This is the first egalley I have reviewed, and I am very happy to start with a good experience. There are punctuation and grammatical errors, but I have been told these would be taken care of before publication.