3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The Story of Our Generation, written by Matei Cazacu, Ioana Cretoiu, and Ladislau G. Hajos, chronicles personal accounts of the Spiru Haret class of 1964 fifty years after graduation. The novel beautifully captures the essence of a generation but accomplishes so much more. While brimming with historical wealth, the non-fiction memoir cultivates a yearning to observe one’s life in the context of history. The Story of Our Generation, though speaking of 1960’s Romania struggling in the aftermath of World War II, parallels modern day. Any reader, no matter their genre partialities, will connect with the innocence of youth saturating this novel.
Section one of The Story of Our Generation provides ample historical context for later chapters. To truly understand and appreciate the novel in its entirety, a reader must understand the effects of The Cold War and World War II on Romania. As a reader with little knowledge of Romania, I greatly appreciated the first three chapters. This novel could’ve comprised itself only of personal accounts from past students, and it still would be a fantastic work of literature. But the authors desired a robust comprehension of Spiru Haret for the audience. This not only shows dedication but great consideration for the reader. Along with the history lesson provided in chapters one through three, chapters four and five conceptually develop what Spiru Haret meant to these students. Because of this, the tone of these chapters presents an informative, yet nostalgic presence. Though section one drags along at times, the knowledge, empathy, and sheer enjoyment gained is well worth a few slow spots.
Although I relished section one, I decided to review The Story of Our Generation for the personal stories of the Spiru Haret students. These personal accounts provide the bulk of the story, and they’re arguably the strongest portions. One of my favorite accounts comes from Matei Cazacu, an author of the novel.
As a reader, I easily connected and visualized this scene due to the photographs provided. Because I previously saw both Mrs. Linte and Cazacu in class together, the scene unfolded naturally. Though some of the photos were small and not very clear, they all support the narrative beautifully. These photographs breathed depth and richness into The Story of Our Generation, providing another dimension of comprehension for readers.Starting with Mrs. Linte, the ruthless and venal shrew (she would accept expensive gifts from parents): do you remember how she used to pull us by our ears, slap us and knock our heads together, and afterwards knock them against the blackboard? I call it sadism.
The Story of Our Generation was translated into English so the book could reach a wider audience. There aren’t many glaring errors in translation, but there were enough for concern. Numerous personal accounts have misspelled words, confused tenses, or just awkwardly translated sentences. Two particular examples occurred in the table of contents within an editor's note. The word ‘responsibility’ was spelled as ‘responsibiliti,’ and ‘particular’ was spelled as ‘particvular.’ Another occurred in one of my favorite accounts. Stefan Andreescu re-tells stories from his academic years, one in which he was transferred to an all girl’s school. Though the account was humorous, issues with translations disrupted my enjoyment.
Though excerpts like this were still very enjoyable, I wish the English translator displayed greater attention to detail.Thus, in “crafts” classes we has to do what the girls were doing, which meant learning to... knit.
The issues with translations, though mildly irritating, caused little stress in comparison to the formatting. The third section is composed entirely of personal accounts from Spiru Haret alumni, but page numbers are absent from this entire section. There are over 40 authors, and without page numbers, it's very difficult to jump from one story to another out of order. I have to slowly scroll through all previous accounts just to find a certain story. I actually gave up once because finding a story became such a cumbersome ordeal. Page numbers are such a necessity for reading, especially e-reading, that it's egregious any editor would let such a mistake occur.
Despite the issues with editing and translation, I give The Story of Our Generation 3 out of 4 stars. The novel was a true group effort of authors and friends coming together to create a wonderful experience. And their determination to share that experience with the world is truly admirable. Though the content was astounding and worthy of a four-star rating, concerns with editing outshined the novel at times. If The Story of Our Generation goes through another round of editing for a secondary edition, I’m confident all the issues will be corrected.
The Story of Our Generation
View: on Bookshelves
Like Riki's review? Post a comment saying so!