Valya Dudycz Lupescu,
The Silence of Trees
(Wolfsword Press, 2010)

Nearly three years ago, I read the first 5,000 words of this story for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and author Valya Dudycz Lupescu left me in a Ukranian forest full of German soldiers bent on rape with 16-year-old Nadya seeking her fortune from a clan of gypsies.

I've wondered what happened ever since. I bought The Silence of Trees as soon as the book was available via Amazon, and even paid extra for second-day delivery. I sat down with the book and a cup of tea expecting to finish in one sitting.

Normally, I'm a serial devourer of books, but The Silence of Trees was entirely too rich for that. I paused at 75 pages and dreamed that night of the gypsy camp. Music, counterpointed by the jangle of tambourines rang in my ears. I even saw the raven-haired dancer clad in red and gold.

I followed Nadya through 50 years of her life, learning what it was like to lose family during World War II, to live in a German work camp and finally to immigrate to a new land where you do not speak the language and begin anew. Each step is full of the same vivid detail as the initial scenes. Nadya and her family grow and become as real as next-door neighbors.

Lupescu's prose truly is the stuff that dreams are made of. The narrative voice of her protagonist Nadya remains strong throughout nearly 50 years of her life. You can almost taste the kolachi and feel the willow switches on your backside on Palm Sunday. The best of literature transports you to places you have never been. While some of the locales of Silence are places you may not have wished to be, there's heart and hope in every page.

book review by
Becky Kyle

26 February 2011

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