A Tale, Inspired By a True Story, of a Woman Who Would Not Become Bitter
“It’s okay. Filip is only showing off in front of his friends. It’s what boys do. It’s best to pay no mind and to keep quiet. Smile at him, then turn away.”
The lessons young Cătălina learned from her beloved grandmother carried her through the horrors of communist Romania, from the countryside to the streets of Bucharest and beyond, into her new life with her teenage children in far-away Sacramento, California.
Behind Silent Smiles is the tale of a woman’s journey to love and be loved in return. She can love others deeply in spite of unspeakable loss and abuse, but is she capable of giving herself the love she deserves?
This is a story of hope despite hardship. The novel takes place in present-day Sacramento, California where Catie and her children have escaped from an abusive home. At times, the story weaves back into Catie’s past, back when she was Cătălina living in Romania. The book provides a vivid glimpse into Romanian life under the rule of the brutal Nicolae Ceauşescu.
While the topics and themes are heavy, the novel isn’t inappropriately graphic. The focus is on human lives and the impact of trauma rather than on the acts themselves. This is a realistic story, inspired by a real one, and thus is ultimately hopeful.