Under A Red Sky by Haya Leah Molnar is a memoir about growing up in Communist Romania. While I knew the time period being covered was the 1950s until 1961, the book felt as though it were set much before such a recent time period - everything seemed older, more drab and gloomy. Unfortunately, this is what I often picture when I think of Communist Russia, so either that is really what it was like, or my prior knowledge prevents me from seeing things differently.
Eva, as Haya is known in her childhood, is Jewish - unbeknownst to her- a fact that she was never told and discovers only after everyone in her household loses their job. Her household includes her maternal grandparents, her mother and father, aunt and uncle, another uncle, and their maid/cook. The quarters are cramped, but Eva's family is happy to have what little room there is. At one time the family was wealthy, able to afford many servants, but with the rise of Communism, Eva's family is now just struggling to get by.
Molnar recounts remembrances of her childhood in this memoir: what her schooling was like, attending classes with a rabbi, the relationships in her home, stories she learned of her parents' lives before they were married or had a child, her friendship with a neighbor boy. All are very common, everyday childhood memories, although I felt that hers were tinged with a bit of sadness as tension over being Jewish in Romania continued to mount. When Molnar's grandparents are able to leave for Israel, hope is restored that one day the rest of the family may be able to join them. Yet, this is not something that happens quickly.
I enjoyed this memoir- it moved quickly, and I have long been curious about life under Communist rule. I have also not really thought about the way Communism affected the Jewish population, or that even through the 1950s, Jews were forced to flee their homes to escape persecution.
Intended for young adults readers, this one would also appeal to adults.