Reviewed by Daryn Watson for Reader Views (3/13)
Monel Costin’s novel “Daniel’s Heroes” is a story centered on a Jewish-Romanian family. The two main characters of the story are Daniel Sitaru, a nationally-ranked high-school tennis star, and his father, Colea, a former officer of the oppressive Communist-run government of Romania.
Daniel dreams of making the Romanian National Jr. tennis team, a status that would allow him to earn a small financial, yet more importantly, prestigious status with his countrymen and, more importantly, young beautiful women. It could also present him a career path as a professional tennis player, something which few Romanians have access to.
His father, Colea, is on the downside of his professional and personal life. While he is no longer a high-ranking officer in the Romanian military, he attempts to remain in contact with current officers by throwing parties for them. Once revered by many, and feared by others, Colea’s struggles with his fall from glory and power is quite evident. He and his wife, Sarah, managed to survive the German invasion of Romania during World War II. While growing up, Colea felt he had to defend his Jewish heritage and the Nazis only reinforced his mindset to defend Jews no matter what.
While training for Nationals, Daniel encounters his first real experiences with young women. He is insecure, clingy and he “falls in love” very easily for beautiful women who show attention to him. One girl in particular, Elena, catches his attention so much so that he almost sabotages his tennis aspirations before he has made the National Junior tennis team. His fascination and fantasizing about women is definitely his Achilles heel. Despite his professed love for Elena, the relationship fizzles completely once the tournament ends and they regrettably part ways.
Upon returning home, Daniel shockingly discovers his parents’ plans to relocate to Israel. Colea’s past is returning to haunt the family’s safety and they feel relocating to the newly created Homeland of their people will give them all a fresh start. Daniel agrees to move with them and eventually abandons his tennis career. He meets a woman named Liora, a fiery activist who supports equal rights for women, immigrants and the poor. Despite their sometimes confrontational relationship, they eventually marry and relocate to Canada. They become well established, but not before a bombshell from Daniel’s past eventually catches up with him.
“Daniel’s Heroes” by Monel Costin works well for the most part. The storylines are good and developed. There are several spelling errors throughout the book that need addressing. I would have also liked to see the beginning of the chapters to show a location and timeline for the family’s characters. This would have helped the book flow a bit better.