Fifteen-year-old Adriana Nicu lives in the sheltered world of Bucharest, Romania, in the year 1987. Under the rule of Communist president Nicolae Ceaușescu, citizens of Bucharest live with the eyes and ears of the government ever present. Adriana’s future, which will involve becoming an engineer, is locked in against her will.
During a visit to her aunt’s apartment, Adriana walks through a wardrobe into a hidden room filled with stacks of forbidden novels. Stories bring light into the darkest of circumstances as her family begins to unravel and her life strangely parallels those of her novels’ heroines. Adriana’s childhood loyalties and her belief that God doesn’t exist are called into question as her circumstances force her to rethink things she once believed were certain.
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One Degree of Freedom is a captivating story, very enjoyable to read. The characters are compelling, with the action set in Cold War Romania. As the events build to a crescendo, the twists and turns kept me intrigued all the way to an unexpected conclusion. I'm eager to see what happens in books two and three.
One Degree of Freedom is a masterfully woven novel about life conditions in Romania under an oppressive communist rule in the 80's. We get to see a teenage girl's struggle for the freedom to choose her vocation in a setting where vocations are assigned to individuals that takes her to some amazing places. She experiences some great adventures on the way as well as some heartaches and bitter disappointment. It is a fast moving compelling read that you don't want to stop as you move from one situation to the next. It is exciting to see how Adriana moves from hopelessness to hope and from despair to expectation. I was inspired and challenged as I read and saw how people in oppressive regimes have to fight for many of the privileges we take for granted. It is a great book for lifting people's spirits to say - if she can do it, so can I.
Thanks to the author for an advance digital copy of this book. All comments and opinions are my own.
Beautiful book cover, endearing young protagonist, government spies, and classic novels. I was hooked from the first page of this multi-layered story. Fifteen-year-old Adriana lives in Communist Romania in 1987, and despite the oppressive political climate and restrictive lifestyle she is a bubbly teenager with a love of reading. Unaware of the political and religious secrets within her own family, she discovers a secret room through a beautifully painted wardrobe at her aunt's house, much like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
The books she discovers in this room are forbidden in Romania, so Adriana's aunt makes her promise she won't tell anyone about the room or the books. This is just the first of several dangerous secrets Adriana uncovers, related to her family and her friends.
Hutchison expertly weaves the real-life restrictions of Romania's tyrannical regime with one family's experiences that depict the resilience of faith and love. The novel juxtaposes characteristic portrayals of life in the city of Bucharest with colorful descriptions of a nearby rural mountain town: weather, plants, scents, and sounds. It was easy to imagine being in Romania with Adriana.
I especially liked the exciting climax and enthusiastically recommend this novel to any adult. It would also make an excellent book for middle and high school students as it vividly explores an historic time through the experiences of a teenager. In addition, the novel demonstrates the concepts of faith, loyalty, and family as Adriana and her family struggled and grew closer despite the dangers.