Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Out of the Translyvania Night by: Dr. Aura Imbarus

Review: Out of the Transylvania Night by: Dr. Aura Imbarus
Release Date: September 27, 2010
Genre: Memoir

The Story: (From Goodreads) In an epic tale of identity and the indomitable human spirit, OUT OF THE TRANSYLVANIA NIGHT explores tyranny, freedom, love, success, and the price paid for misaligned dreams. An incredibly powerful memoir.

'I'd grown up in the land of TRANSYLVANIA, homeland to Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, and, worse, the Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu—who turned Romania into a land of gray-clad zombies who never dared to show their individuality, and where neighbors became informants, and the Securitate made people disappear. Daylight empowered the regime to encircle us like starved wolves, and so night had always been the time to steal a bit of freedom. As if bred into our Transylvanian blood, we were like vampires who came to life after sundown. I buried the family heirloom jewels, tucked the flag into my sweater and left my outpost to join the action . . . tonight Ceausescu would die!'

Known for using stand-ins to pose for him, Aura doubts if it was even Ceausescu himself who was killed that night. Nevertheless, when her countrymen topple one of the most draconian regimes in the Soviet bloc, Aura Imbarus tells herself that life post-revolution will be different. But little in the country changes. With two pieces of luggage and a powerful dream, Aura and her new husband flee to America. Through sacrifice and hard work, the couple acquire a home, cars, and travel—but trying to be Americans is much more complicated than they expect. More difficulties set in: the stock market crash takes their savings, house, and cars; thieves steal three centuries' worth of heirloom jewels; and Aura's beloved mother dies.

Aura's marriage crumbles under the stress. Devastated, she asks herself, 'How much of one's life is owed to others?' Tested even further by the vagaries of fate, Aura discovers a startling truth about striking a balance between one's dreams and the sacrifices and compromises that allow for serenity, selfhood, and lasting love. More resolution comes when in 2010, Ceausescu's body is exhumed to answer questions of a cover-up, and Aura can finally lay to rest the haunting mysteries of her past.

My Review: Memoirs appeal to me on two levels. The first, and most obvious, is that I simply love to read pretty much everything I can get my hands on; the second, not so obvious, is as a historian. So, when I first read the above description, I was very intrigued, if a little hesitant to read Out of the Transylvania Night. Intrigued because it sounded like a really awesome book, hesitant because I feared that my training would kick in and I would try to dissect every part of the book for historical accuracy (which is not my purpose here). As it turns out, there was no need for me to be concerned.

As I started reading, I was completely engrossed in Aura's story. She began her story on December 21, 1989; Christmas time in a country that was not supposed to celebrate Christmas. She described in vivid detail, life under the communist regime, the revolution, and the corruption that followed. But this was just the beginning; Aura left Romania to travel to LA with her husband, Michael, to start a new life. Her struggles did not end when she left Romania; in America, she faced new troubles. Though different, it was no less difficult to face the problems in America. I would say the story ends in the Summer of 2010; but really, that is just where the book ends, for at the end there's another beginning.

Out of the Transylvania Night was a fascinating and difficult read at the same time. Aura's story was captivating; yet, I say difficult, because parts of Aura's story were truly heartbreaking. Aura shared experiences that made me travel a broad range of emotions including anger, despair, hope, love, and more. As I read this book, I was reminded that America was founded on that pioneering spirit (seeking out a new life in spite of the difficulties one faces), which Aura clearly embodied. Aura faced many problems head-on, but hope and love radiated through the every part of her story.

I would recommend this book for everyone. It appeals on so many levels. No matter what you like to read, this book would appeal to you. It was a story of love, loss, war, hope, discovery, there were even parts that will appeal to those who love the paranormal. Aura's story will haunt you, even as it reminds you of the hope that lives within the American heart- that dreams really can come true... you just have to work for it.

My Rating:

I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Imbarus a few questions. Check back tomorrow to read the interview!

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