From the Rill to the Ocean
Attention-grabbing read … Recommended … 5 stars
From the Rill to the Ocean opens with lovely poem bearing the same name as the book. On April 27, 1941 Imre Kalanyos was born in a tiny village, Sivo, Hungary. Sivo did not have a church thus there is no mention of it even on Imre's birth certificate. Despite his ethnic background, Gypsy, Imre grew up with a good understanding of the history of the country. Twenty seven years of life lived as a minority shaped Imre's understanding of what it means to be Gypsy. Life before Imre's birth was simple, modest and uneventful until one April day when the bridge spanning the Drava River was bombed. The incident did not pose a threat for the villagers then, it was about four miles away, and while distracting it was not threatening. World War II was happening in the part of the world the villagers of Sivo hardly knew about. The war became a reality in June of that year when Janos along with others of the village was conscripted to fight alongside the Germans against the Russians. Sivo suffered evacuation, the village was destroyed, and finally the family returned to their battered home and was reunited. Hardship and privation was the lot of the whole of Hungary, the country fell under the dictatorship of Stalin, and in 1949 due to the village's proximity to the border militarized zone it was relocated. Imre attended school in Gordisa where he soon learned he was not Hungarian . he was Gypsy.
From the Rill to the Ocean traces the life of Imre Kalanyos who parents Maria and Janos were hard working, long-suffering people. From Maria; Imre inherited a capacity for endurance, and a loving heart. From his father Janos; Imre learned modesty and intellect. The years following WWII were filled with poverty and hardship. They were also filled with family, and happiness and joy despite the hard times. Brothers Janos and Jozef married, raised children and took their places in local society. Imre went on to high school, served in the military and maintained a quiet resolute notion that simply being Gypsy did not mean inferior or tainted.
At age twenty six Imre had reached a time of decision; Live Free or Die. His fear of being caught in an escape attempt loomed larger than his fear of death if caught during the effort. For Imre he was leaving everything behind, including his family. In June 1967, without incident, Imre crossed the Hungarian-Yugoslavian border. Crossing the Yugoslavian-Italian border was a little trickier. He had traversed about half of a patch of clear area when a siren sounded and Imre fell to the ground like a rock. He sprang to his feet and dashed across the last of the cleared area and into the woods. Later in the refugee camp at Trieste he learned the siren always sounded at that time to day to signal the shift change at a nearby factory. He was in Italy.
Told in an easy reading style by a man who faced unfairness and adversity for much of his life From the Rill to the Ocean will touch the heart of readers who are electrified by the determination of the human spirit. The discrimination he endured as a child along with the failure of the Communists when they gained power in Hungary served as impetus for Imre to seek a better life. The book is illustrated with family photos, copies of documents and poignant poems penned to explain some of the longing felt by Writer Kalanyos. Included at the aback of the volume is a brief history of the Gypsies, as well as charts explaining a little of the relation of Indo-European Languages.
From the Rill to the Ocean is a compelling outline of one man's life, determination and hope. Imre Kalanyos arrived in American during the Christmas season 1968. Today he lives in North Carolina with his wife and dogs Jesse and Buddy.
I was sent a Trade Paperback for Review. Writer Kalanyos has packed a whole lot of something to say on 120 pages. From the Rill to the Ocean is a must have for the personal reading shelf, the school and public library collection, gift basket for serious readers and the high school library.
Enjoyed the read and Highly Recommend for those who enjoy history, tales of determination and grit, and those who just plain like a good book