This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.
This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.
This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.
Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
When I Was Better by Rita Bozi is a historical epic that follows the lives of a small family of three up against some of the biggest, most destructive events in Eastern Europe's history. Following a brief prologue, the book begins in mid-century Hungary with István telling his wife Teréza that he is fleeing the country alone. The book then dances between timelines to show us how this came to pass. István's 'uncooperative' and 'non-compliant' dissent under the occupation of the then Soviet Union is detailed, as is the courtship and relationship between István and Teréza amidst political and social turmoil. When István flees and Teréza is left behind with their infant son Zolti, the true test of her resilience and the strength of the marriage becomes the focal point as their years of separation draw out. “She’d been an accomplice since the day István escaped. Guilty for being a Catholic, guilty for being a self-determined citizen, guilty for being a Hungarian citizen in a Soviet world.”
When I Was Better is not an easy book to get through. Rita Bozi does well in breathing life into her two main characters and those surrounding them, and from a technical standpoint the writing is well executed and the story well told. The difficulty for me as a reader was twofold. I did not like István and I had a hard time respecting Teréza. Despite all of their admirable intentions in fighting the good fight, they are viewed through the lens of a modern perspective. I had to keep reminding myself this is historical fiction and the picture painted of a time when married couples just stuck it out was not always going to be a rosy one. The scenes depicting their advocacy and resistance are the best parts of the novel, and the page-turning is fueled by little Zolti and wanting to know what the future holds as we were introduced to him before he is born. The ending is hopeful although not happy, but for those who enjoy literary fiction with an authentic representation of the period, this should tick all of the boxes. Recommended.