It is 1977 and seventeen-year-old Mona Manoliu has fallen in love with Mihai, a mysterious boy who lives in the romantic mountain city where she spends her summers. She can think of nothing and no one else.
But life under Ceausescu's Romania is difficult. Hunger, paranoia and fear infect everyone. One day Mona sees Mihai wearing the black leather jacket favoured by the secret police. Is it possible he is one of them? As food shortages worsen and more of her loved ones disappear, Mona comes to understand that she must leave Romania.
She escapes in secret - narrowly avoiding the police - through Yugoslavia to Italy, and finally to Chicago. But she leaves without saying a final goodbye to Mihai. And though she struggles to bury her longing for the past, many years later she finds herself compelled to return, determined to learn the truth.
A coming of age story, a struggle for political integrity and female identity, a wonderful love story - the book engages us on many levels.
I was swept away by Domnica Radulescu's debut novel. It's at once a haunting journey to a faraway country, beautiful and terrifying, and an odyssey straight to the heart of a young girl and the remarkable woman she becomes. Deeply moving and deeply felt, Train to Trieste is an unforgettable story that introduces a new and astonishingly fresh voice.