God’s Buried Children – A Very Different Kind of Christmas Carol

Sometimes there is this book that might not be perfect but still gets to you – under your skin and into your thoughts – long after you have returned the book to its shelf or turned off the tablet. Daniel Farcas has written one of these books, God’s Buried Children. This is not a story to make you feel all warm and cosy. On the contrary, his is a story to make you sad and angry. I was asked to review it and without much thought I agreed (‘hey, it’s for free, right?’) and I was so gripped by the cleverly put together story I could not put it down until I had come to the last page. So, here goes:

Reading these memories by an orphaned Romanian boy growing up in the 1980’s is a harrowing experience: Daniel is one of the many children left to suffer in one of the state orphanages, where brutality and neglect have replaced humanity and care. He and a ragbag of other children escape to eke out a living in the sewers of the capital, Bucharest. Not only is the secret police part of their daily lives, but also disease, hunger, drugs, and death. The only thing not part of their lives is someone to care for them and keep them safe.

When revolution disposes of Nicolae Ceaușescu this does not mean justice is replacing the previous injustice – at least not for the people at the bottom of society: The children living in the sewers are still tormented by the same people that patrolled during the communist era. Vlad, Crazy, Crow (they rarely know their names), and the rest of the orphans decide to find out why they were abandoned and to hand out their own justice where it is needed. Daniel is dreaming of a different life and when he meets the young American aid worker Mariana he is touched by love for the first time and maybe there is a future for him, after all…

God’s Buried Children is amazing reading with all the suspense needed to make you continue reading. The quirky language puzzled me in the beginning, but what else would make sense when the story is told by a boy who has never been taught to read and write? The mistakes and the tentative use of some phrases and words only help to paint a picture of something that should never have been allowed to happen – the betrayal of a country’s children. This is not light reading -but important. Romania is today part of the European Union but only a few decades ago it was one of the most impoverished and isolated totalitarian states on the European continent.

By not forgetting these children maybe we can stop it from happening again. Hopefully.

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2 thoughts on “God’s Buried Children – A Very Different Kind of Christmas Carol

  1. The truth is that I haven’t read Daniel’s book yet and I am way too young to have known the effects of the communism. But I am romanian and I feel like I need to say things about your review. I know that there have been horrible things during that period and those things left marks on the people. I know how many died, how many famished and how many were tortured. How many left and never returned home.
    But we don’t talk about this. As long as people who experienced this are still alive, it is more like a tabu subject. You’re not told much in schools about this system and your parents don’t talk with you in the kitchen about these things, because they’re still fresh, still new. It’s been a too short period of time since it ended, to be called healed. Your grandparents still say “on Ceaușescu’s times it was…” and it’s more like a landmark for comparison to today’s quality of life or political efficiency, and as a youngster, you’re unsure what to believe.
    At the same time, so many things happened for our country during those years; things that are now ruined. I am not saying that it was a good thing, but it brought good aspects to our country. Romania had some really small periods in which she was known as a good country, in which she was recognized for everything, and comunism was one of them. Nowadays foreigners see our country as small, unimportant, filled with stupid people and uneducated gypsies and we’re deemed as unworthy for EU, and for many other things as well. And we probably are, because people who are really worthy, left. You have your country built with the efforts of our people, and those people wouldn’t have come to being if not for that period.
    Everything has a good and a bad side and so is Romania. I feel biased because of course, it’s my country and I will bleed to make her worthy enough to be /looked at/, and believe me, no one here will forget the children bornt from comunism. We have some of them ruling us, and we see regrets in our elders’ eyes. We will not forget, because we live with the remaints of that time all around us: in school, at home, in the bus.
    Daniel was just brave enough to tell his story, to tell the story of those who survived and I am sure it is a powerful read.
    But don’t put down /my/ country because of her past, because even if that’s what made her (and yes, i will keep reffering to my country with female pronouns), America’s, England’s or any other countries’ isn’t any better.

    • Dear Sara,
      I can fully recommend the book; it is well worth the effort. I read and review people’s books because I love reading – all sorts of books from all over the place dealing with different issues. Reading is not always comforting and it can raise all sorts of questions and thoughts but, to me, this is one of the fantastic things about reading.
      Seasonal greetings,

      Helena

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