November 30, 2006

Romance in pre-Solidarity Movement Poland

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

Eva hates her dad right now.
For one thing, he's all the parent she has left. Her mother just died of cancer.
For another thing, he's taken her from the comfortable 'burbs in Chicago where she's just made the swim team and is dating the hottest guy in the whole school, and is taking her to ... Poland?! To help with some kind of underground education movement? Is he KIDDING!?

It's terrifying. It's about 1978 and in Poland, the Communist government is still in power. People's lives are in danger, and whatever you say might be listened to and reported. People are beaten, jailed, vanished.

Unfortunately, all Eva can think about is how the stores don't have meat, how gross it is to eat LARD as a treat, and how she just wants to escape from boredom and loneliness and return to her records, her comfortably warm house, her boyfriend and her life in the U.S... in her saddest daydreams, Eva also wishes she could have her mother back. Would Dad be doing all this... craziness if Mom had survived? Would this Poland be as important to her, too? Will it ever be important to Eva?

Life behind the Iron Curtain before the Solidarity Movement contrasts sharply with life in the United States in the late 1970's. As she lets herself become interested in Tomek, a young and handsome leader of the underground, Eva opens herself to the people of Poland, and allows their struggle to become hers.

Readers will take a little of the history of a people and place away from Eva Underground, and may be interested in learning more about them both. As Eva's understanding of the people surrounding her changes, the characters change from brooding, moody, incomprehensible people to flesh and blood friends whose needs are simple yet whose lives, because of their refusal to be silenced by their government, are horrifically dangerous.

1 comment:

a. fortis said...

Sounds fascinating! It reminds me of stories my parents told me of a trip they took to Czechoslovakia in about '76 or '77--when they crossed the border, guards were pointing machine guns at their car. And because the only common language my parents had with people was German, they were treated pretty poorly.

Anyway, I look forward ot reading this one.