Title: Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania
Author: Rosa Alexander
Review: This was an interesting book to read. My husband and I spent 18 months in Romania where this book takes place so we loved hearing of all the places and about the people even though the names were different.
If I understand this correctly, this is a novel taken from real life experiences. Having lived in Romania we were able to hear firsthand some of the horrible things that happened to the people during the Ceausescu era, he nearly starved a whole country to death to build a “People’s Palace” larger than the Pentagon, razing whole sections of town and throwing the people out into the street with no recompense for their homes that were lost to build “their palace”. He was called a “Friend of the People” and a “friend of America” and the world thought he was a great leader. A lot of the people we met were young when he took over as “President for life” (which turned out to be true,) and all they remembered were the starving times they went through.
This book is interesting the way it presents “Rosa’s” story but the language used is too stilted for me, I felt that I was sitting at an old B rated movie when the conservation would go back and forth between two bad guys. Example: out of the book,
“Be good, my Rosa”, Mother said hugging me tightly before I boarded the train.
“I will. You be careful, Mother. Watch out that you do not let Father hurt you.”
Everything will be fine, my dear Rosa. You do not worry. Just go and have a good time….”
That may not be the best example but it gives the idea. If this book is a translation from Romanian to English I understand the language seeming stilted, although I wish the names had been left in their Romanian form.
The story deals with a young girl whose name is Rosa, who lives with her mother and father in a small village. They are quite poor because her father drinks all of his paycheck at the local bar. He’s also very violent and beats both Rosa and her mother causing Rosa to have to learn to overcome her hatred and fear of him. Even when he quits drinking it is many years before she can allow herself to trust him. This story could have been quite beautiful if more of it could have centered on her working through these feelings but it seems to jump over them and leaves the reader feeling that Rosa never really recovered from it and took those feelings with her into her life after her childhood.
She seem to have had a happy marriage , but at the same time always seems to be unhappy and wanting something better. It is sad that her family was split up for such a long time but after a while I got tired of the “poor little Rosa” and would have like to have seen a conclusion to the problems a bit faster. I believe that the reason for this type of attitude was the oppressive life she lived as a child. All of her hopes and dreams were squelched first by an abusive father and then by oppressive government, so to her the America her great Aunt describes, looks like the place to answer all her girlhood dreams. But as she finds out, all countries have their problems and happiness is not about the place we live but the happiness we allow ourselves to have and the joys that come from within, if we only allow it.
The story was interesting but goes on way too long, a bit more editing would be helpful. Several of our reviewers have mentioned this seems to be a problem with the Tate Publishing Company.
Thanks go to Eileen for this review.
Publisher: Published November 1st 2011 by TatePublishing & Enterprises
Quick Review: 3 stars (out of 5)-
Why I Read It: Sent by the author for review.
Synopsis: “I do not want to hear another word about your crazy American Dream!”
Words such as these from Rosa Alexander’s father during his frequent drunken rants often drove young Rosa to seek solace beneath her weeping willow tree. One day, however, her aunt Klara visits from America, giving Rosa hope for a brighter future. Rosa held on to her dream for years, waiting for the chance to leave her beloved homeland and find a home across the ocean. The time never comes, however, and eventually Rosa marries Alan and starts a family; believing that perhaps America is not part of her plan anymore.
As life becomes increasingly harder, in 1985, Rosa and Alan finally make plans to escape the cruel eye of the Romanian government and find freedom in America. They are forced, however, to leave their children—Julia, 8; and Peter, 4—behind. When Peter and Julia are not able to join her and Alan as hoped, Rosa struggles through enormous sorrow as she begins an almost four-year battle to reunite her family.
Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania, based on the emotional true story of Rosa Alexander’s American Dream, relates how Rosa’s dream eventually becomes a grown-up search for peace and a yearning for her family to be together. As Rosa begins to trust God, she not only hears His voice but also finds her own. Rosa’s story reminds readers that with faith, dreams can come true.
Where the Willow Grows in Transylvania differs from many books on the market as it takes the reader to a different world yet encourages him/her in his own world to remember the value of love for one's family; friends; country. This book also encourages readers to hold onto . . . to never give up on their dream. As she tells her story, Rosa
reminds readers that a dream can come true - even if it takes 50 years.
Author Biography: Author interview here.