The lyrical story of a young woman's journey from the totalitarianism of Eastern Europe to the freedom of America, told by an author who knows first-hand about living in a cruel and absurd dictatorship. It's the summer of 1977, and 17-year-old Mona is madly in love. Visiting her aunt's village at the foot of the misty Carpathian mountains, all she can think about is the mysterious, handsome Mihai, the woods where they linger, his deep green eyes, and his cool, starched sheets. Romania is in the early years of the repressive Ceausescu regime. One day Mona sees Mihai wearing the black leather jacket favored by the secret police. Could he be one of them? As food shortages worsen, paranoia grows, and more of her loved ones disappear in "accidents," Mona realizes she must leave her country. She makes a daring escape to America without saying goodbye to Mihai. In Chicago, she becomes a doctoral student, marries, has children, and tries to bury her longing for the past- until she feels compelled to return home and learn the truth about her one great love.