Iulia Lung’s book is a journey. It describes her own experience of transformation and personal development in a turning point moment, an experience of a mid-career crisis. At 45, everything turns 180 degrees. A nomad who had traveled and worked for many years in many parts of the world connected to the highest comfort chooses to retire to the countryside, in one of the most isolated villages in the Zarand Mountains. She does not know anyone there, she has no roots or memories to recall her, but only an acute need for freedom and peace of mind. The brutal change of location also contributes to the dissolution of her marriage, which ended in a divorce. Iulia is left alone with a 12-year-old child, in a house bought with little money, but which needed major repairs. The idyllic beauty of the village falls apart at the end of autumn when the cold, the darkness and the isolation bite hard into Iulia’s bohemian dreams. She decides to go back into the comfort of the city for the winter, but returns in the spring with a concrete plan of survival. Which involves a titanic job in the household, the struggle with the distrust of the people in the community, the gossip about her condition as a divorced woman, the limited financial resources and the responsibility to raise a child alone. But nothing angers Julia more than the realization that the place is a gold mine that has been deliberately degraded. Her ideal of cultivating and consuming only organic food is met with tremendous physical exertion, but she is overwhelmed by the impossibility to help the village thrive from these underexploited natural resources.
The book is multifaceted because it addresses various topics – from the story of a professional and personal turning point in the middle of a life and career crisis, to the transformation of a person with an exclusively urban lifestyle, to a rural one; there are also issues related to the challenges of single parenting, about educating her child in a homeschooling style, very unusual 10 years ago; also interesting are the techniques of survival in an area with almost wild nature, poor in water resources and urban comfort, but also the “techniques” of cultivating relationships in a tight community, with people reluctant to anything new. Iulia also describes the phenomenon of international volunteering experienced by young people from other countries who have a sabbatical year to travel all over the world, working on farms in various communities, to earn a living and to experience personal development. It is an extraordinary exercise for entering adulthood that Iulia knows from the experience of living and working in other countries.
By far, the most consistent chapter of the book is the one that describes the experience of female leadership of this “intruder” who is running for mayor in this community where the public administration is corrupted to the bone and built on mafia-type rules.
The writer describes all the humiliations, abuses, misogyny of men and women, lack of solidarity and all the barriers and obstacles created by a political power that does not accept honesty, courage, patriotism, and real concern for people held in poverty and ignorance.