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Reviewed by Andy Hutchings for Readers' Favorite
This week, I’ve been thoroughly absorbed by Radu Guiasu’s powerful depiction of friendship and determination in The Faraway Mountains. The book explores the lives of several young people living under a communist dictatorship, splitting between a group of friends on an expedition up a mountain – facing the perils of nature – and a talented pianist in the city desperate to escape. Exploring themes of friendship and surviving in a world that is inherently hostile toward you, the book delivers a remarkable insight into the reality of life beyond the Iron Curtain through the eyes of young people who have never seen life outside the painful rule of a dictatorship.
The human spirit is a difficult thing to sustain in a world that views people almost as if they were disposable commodities, and the ingredients needed to keep the flame of hope alive in such a context are elusive and often out of reach. But as Radu Guiasu explores in this seminal work, it isn’t impossible to retain your humanity and keep moving forward. His protagonists, each one rich in depth and nuance, form a powerful core in this narrative to show the reader how a better future can be fought for through the bonds we share with the people around us. Their friendship - and the journey that their friendship takes them on - is a beautiful contrast to the oppressive context in which The Faraway Mountains takes place, creating a powerful and moving portrayal of a single light burning brightly in a sea of darkness. As the story unfolds and the darkness threatens to overwhelm them, it is impossible not to spend page after page rooting for their journey to continue.