Click here to watch my video. I tell a little of the story behind the story and do a short reading.
Sometimes it only takes one small act to unchain a captive mind.
Fifteen-year-old Adriana Nicu lives in the sheltered world of Bucharest, Romania, in the year 1987. Under the rule of Communist president Nicolae Ceausescu, citizens of Bucharest live with the eyes and ears of the government ever present. Adriana’s future, which will involve becoming an engineer, is locked in against her will.
READ WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:
A fierce heroine who reads banned books—my favorite kind of hero! And for book nerds like me, literary references abound in One Degree of Freedom, by Taryn Hutchison. Brilliantly conceptualized and beautifully written, and a coming-of-age tale set in the Cold War era, with characters you fall in love with and root (and cry) for. Adriana comes to understand her family’s place in the world around her and makes incredibly difficult decisions as she recognizes and stands for her own beliefs. Meticulous research and excellent writing immerse readers in the setting and show life during the times, as Adriana and her friends travel on their journey.
~Kim Childress, Book Editor, Girls’ Life Magazine
Is there a teenage girl anywhere in this world who would not be tantalized by a novel in which a passageway through a wardrobe opens into a hidden room filled with stacks of forbidden novels? Under the rule of Communist president Nicolae Ceaușescu, Adriana’s future — becoming an engineer — is locked in place. But didn’t Leonard Cohen tell us there’s a crack in everything — that that’s how the light gets in? Just wait until Adriana sees the crack in the concrete block, begins to tug and pulls out a metal box. Spellbinding and inspiring.
~ Dannye Romine Powell, Charlotte Observer Books Editor
Taryn Hutchison has vividly brought to life one of our modern world’s most challenging decades, set in a country so few of us learn about or experience. Through the eyes of teenagers Adriana, Gabi and their friends, readers are plunged into Cold War-era Romania in this compelling narrative that grabs you from its first pages. Government spies, family bonds, hidden rooms, fierce friendships, the search for faith, childhood rebellion … it’s a book that will draw in and enlighten YA readers while reviving nostalgia and longing among older generations. Hutchison deftly weaves hope among darkness, reminding us that all we have to do is return to the stories where our heroes exist, so that we can become the heroes of our own lives.
~Catherine Campbell, author, editor & essayist (Writer’s Digest, NYT)
Rich with Romanian culture and vibrant imagination, One Degree of Freedom explores the liberation found in books and how fiction often reflects its readers. Hutchison crafts an immersive read perfect for fans of historical and classic literature, seamlessly blending nostalgia with relevant truths, not to mention an abundance of secret tunnels, wardrobes, and dusty reading nooks. This novel is sure to captivate booklovers of all ages.
~Caroline George, author of award-winning Dearest Josephine
From the beginning, I felt like I was immersed in a classical tale. The voice is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis, with Hutchison’s own flair. I immediately fell in love with the detailing, and I’m certain readers are going to feel completely that they’ve traveled back in time to 1980s Romania, a time which I’m certain we all wish we knew more about. Luckily for us Hutchison fills us in, and we cannot help but fall in love with Adriana and her curiosity and imagination. She reminds me of a 1980s Lucy Pevensie. I can’t wait to see what else this author writes, and she’s definitely one to watch.
~Hope Bolinger, author of the Blaze trilogy and the Dear Hero duology
Enchanting and captivating, One Degree of Freedom is a novel I could not put down. Taryn R. Hutchison transports readers into 1980s Romania with visceral clarity and hope-filled resonance. Fans of classic authors like Louisa May Alcott and current YA historical greats, like Stephanie Morrill, will fall in love with Hutchison’s honest and sincere voice.
~Tara K. Ross, author of Fade to White, and cohost of The Hope Prose Podcast
As an avid reader of historical fiction and particularly little-known tales of female heroines, I was delighted to meet Adriana in One Degree of Freedom by Taryn Hutchison. The strong characters, references to classic children’s literature, detailed historical research, and smooth writing made me feel a part of Adriana’s world. This book will appeal to readers of all ages and has excellent potential for use in the classroom.
~Peggy Wirgau, author of The Stars in April, historical fiction
Taryn Hutchison has crafted a compelling story about a young girl coming of age in the tightly controlled government state of Romania when it was under Communist rule. She immediately drew me in with her strong characters and authentic details. Hutchison allowed me a glimpse of a world I had heard of but had never experienced. Because of her vivid storytelling, I got to feel what it was like to live under such a repressive state. Yet, her story is full of hope, courage, and even joy. It’s the kind of story I’d like to read again, just to be reminded of how circumstances don’t have to determine our trajectory. And I can’t wait for my teenage granddaughter to read it!
~JoHannah Reardon, author of The Blackberry County Chronicles
Set in 1980s communist Romania, One Degree of Freedom is a tale of bravery perfect for those who grew up with a love for literature. By the time I finished reading the first chapter, I completely fell in love with it (there were several audible gasps of excitement). The voice! The references! The suspense!
~Alea Harper, YA author and graphic designer
In One Degree of Freedom, Taryn Hutchison displays her gift of capturing the atmosphere of the time and place. Taryn understands what the day-to-day life was like for the ordinary person living under Communism. I can easily identify with Adriana because I was a Romanian teenager in the 1980s. From the very start of One Degree of Freedom, the names Taryn chooses for her characters, the sensory details, the accuracy of events mentioned from our history, take me all the way back to that era, where each of us had to find our own degree of freedom. Her story evokes many memories I have from a time where access to information was “classified” and there was no way to really know what was going on in our country. I can’t wait for my three children to read this book.
~Dana Alupei Dove, Global Ministry Rep, Central & Eastern Europe
Poetic, empathetic, emotionally riveting! One Degree of Freedom demands to be read as a true depiction of communism at its height, written by a brilliant author who witnessed the final demise of such a sad era. The story of 15-year-old Adriana will capture young readers and teach an important history lesson. Older readers will remember the cold war and the terror they felt as the Eastern Block finally fell. Taryn Hutchison is an author whose appeal requires attention.
~Madelyn Bennett Edwards, author of The Catfish Trilogy
Even the smallest glimmer of hope can break through the darkest night.
Life in Communist Romania in 1988 becomes increasingly dangerous for sixteen-year-old Adriana Nicu as she and her friend Gabi seek answers to a forty-year-old mystery. Their mission: find an old wardrobe intended to be a Jewish family’s way of escape from the Nazis, and maybe—just maybe—find out what happened to the family after they disappeared.
READ WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:
Gripping. Relevant. Expertly crafted. Two Lights of Hope captured me, held me, and has refused to let go. Author Taryn Hutchison’s deft portrayal of resilience and hope in the darkest days of Ceauşescu’s Romania compelled me to explore my own devotion to freedom—and what I’d risk and sacrifice to keep it. An exceptional, beautifully written sequel to One Degree of Freedom sure to land in hearts of all ages.
~ Cheryl Grey Bostrom, bestselling author of the award-winning novel Sugar Birds
Taryn Hutchison’s Two Lights of Hope offers readers a riveting page-turner. Her depiction of life in communist Romanian brings chills as we witness the citizens’ subjection to surveillance by the government. Even teenagers Adriana and Gabi face danger from the all-powerful leadership when they become amateur sleuths in search of a wardrobe that holds the key to missing family friends. Through stunning research, well-developed characters, and exquisitely rendered setting, the author conveys in the strongest terms the difficulty of living under Ceausescu’s oppressive regime. A powerful, important book everyone should read.
~Linda MacKillop, author of The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon
Taryn Hutchison’s latest novel, Two Lights of Hope, transports readers to 1988 Communist Romania—a place and time not many are familiar with, despite its recent history. Sixteen-year-old Adrianna Nicu sets out to solve an old family mystery under the growing suspicions of the ever-watchful authorities. We’re given a glimpse into her repressive world as she navigates the pressures of everyday life in Bucharest, holding our breath as she closes in on the truth. You won’t put this heartfelt story down until the last beautiful page!
~ Peggy Wirgau, author of The Stars in April, winner of SCWC Notable Book Award, YA Fiction
From the beginning, I felt like I was immersed in a classical tale. The voice is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis, with Hutchison’s own flair. I immediately fell in love with the detailing, and I’m certain readers are going to feel completely that they’ve traveled back in time to 1980s Romania, a time which we all wish we knew more about. Luckily for us Hutchison fills us in, and we cannot help but fall in love with Adriana and her curiosity and imagination. I can’t wait to see what else this author writes, and she’s definitely one to watch.
~ Hope Bolinger, Acquisitions editor and the author of almost 30 books
In Two Lights of Hope, Hutchison takes us on a riveting heroine’s quest to illuminate the powerful family bonds of love and faithfulness amidst life in the Romanian Communist regime. Adriana, our winsome modern-day Nancy Drew, reminds us why we must never forget the horrors of injustice and the joy that comes when we refuse to give up. This book left me contemplating how everyone can make a difference in the life of one person, one family and ultimately, one culture. An inspiring read from start to finish.
~Margaret Philbrick, author of House of Honor and A Minor: A Novel of Love, Music, Memory
Taryn Hutchison immerses you into 1980s Romania with interwoven mysteries that will keep you flipping pages until the end. The layers of story and compelling characters brings a family’s story to life and shows a different side of the Holocaust. If you enjoy coming of age stories and historical tales, this is for you.
~Candice Pedraza Yamnitz, author of Unbetrothed
“We waited 45 years for you to come and set us free. Why did you take so long?”
Inspiring and with humorous moments, We Wait You is the real-life story of hearts transformed after the 1989 revolutions that forever changed Eastern Europe, as told by one woman who made a difference.
History and faith will come alive as you take this riveting journey with Taryn Hutchison behind the Iron Curtain, encountering Cold War informants, Russian mafia, and persecuted believers. Relive the unforgettable drama of historic events that changed Eastern Europe – against all hope.
CALLED “NOTABLE BOOK” BY WORLD MAGAZINE
“[Taryn Hutchison] writes with humor and affection about her experiences in lands emerging from decades of Communist imprisonment.”
NAMED TO United Methodist Women National Reading Program Book List
GIVEN 5 STARS FROM Readers’ Favorite Review
READ WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:
“Taryn Hutchison is a fresh voice of those who continue to break new ground telling the old story … What Elisabeth Elliot’s writing accomplished a generation ago in opening the eyes of the world to tribal missions, Taryn Hutchison skillfully accomplishes in opening the eyes of the world today to global missions … Within the covers of this book are run-ins with the Russian mafia, joyous celebrations in the street, intrigue, hidden microphones, faith, and adventure lived out by Taryn and her sea of friends who said ‘Yes’ to God. Woven through the subtext of the book is a hope-filled love story that only God could orchestrate … We Wait You is a ‘must-read’ not only for short-term mission teams, missionaries and their supporters, but for every person who desires to live missionally and make an impact for the Kingdom of God.”
~Dr. Eric Swanson, Leadership Network
Co-author of several books, including The Externally Focused Church
“We Wait You is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It really is that good. It is a well-written, transparent memoir of Taryn’s leadership with Campus Crusade in Eastern Europe.”
~Dr. Jeff Iorg, President, Gateway Baptist Theological Seminary
Author of several books, including of The Character of Leadership
“Exciting … life-changing … challenging to the eternally-minded … encouraging to those who long to make a difference in the world.”
~Kay Marshall Strom, author of more than 40 books, including Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness and Courage in the Face of Persecution
“We Wait You is in my all time top ten list. Some books speak to the brain. Some speak to the heart. Others speak to the soul. Your book makes strong connections in all those ways. I cried a lot when I read it. Tears of joy. Tears of sadness. Tears of love.”
~Dr. Dale Burnside, Professor of Biology, Lenoir-Rhyne University
“I want to express my thankfulness and appreciation for the book that Terena wrote. I just finished the book and I am thrilled. I have some tears in my eyes and I also laughed at some chapters. It was awesome!”
~Pastor Ioan Brisc, Romanian Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon
(Second-largest Romanian church in U.S.)
“It’s refreshing to read a book … about real people doing real missions with real struggles and accomplishments … The book is spiritual, genuine, and practical.”
—Dr. Eddie Pate, Professor of Missions, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary
“Taryn’s story is true, breathtaking, miraculous, and well worth reading.”
~Ney Bailey, Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) International Speaker
Author of Faith is Not a Feeling
“As a full-blooded Eastern European follower of the Messiah, I admit a healthy dose of skepticism upon hearing about this book … Page by page, layer by layer, I was disarmed, thawed and drawn into this beautifully transparent, hilarious story, re-living many of the cathartic moments which marked the continent’s turbulent decade, laughing and crying with this unlikely heroine and falling deeper in love with her and this crazy God whom she so faithfully, wholeheartedly trusts.”
~Gordana Miletic Sjostedt, Cru staff, “Second Cup of Coffee” blogger
“We Wait You, by Taryn R. Hutchison, is a fascinating account of one woman’s experiences in Romania shortly after Communism fell. You’re guaranteed to gain a broader understanding of the oppression under which the Romanian people lived for years, and of the hope they gained through the Gospel.”
~Grace Fox, Author of several books, including the 10-Minute Time Outs for Women series
“I read We Wait You all at one sitting. I laughed and cried . . . I couldn’t put it down.”
~Patricia Clement, Pastor’s wife
“She will make you smile, cry, laugh out loud, even hide under the covers at times.”
~Kelly Summers, International representative, Corsica, France
Click here to watch our book trailer. You’ll get to hear Curtis share some thoughts about the book.
Sentenced to Life is the riveting story of Curtis Roberts, who served twenty-nine years in prison for three unarmed robberies totaling $116. But God set Curtis free long before his eventual release from San Quentin. His journey is one of faith, redemption, and unexpected grace.
In 1995, high on drugs and low on cash, Curtis Roberts walked into a liquor store, spied two twenties lying on top of an open register, and pocketed the bills. He’d just committed his third strike. The judge sentenced him to fifty years to life. Curtis became number E-25212, a lifer in California’s Department of Corrections.
Curtis Roberts’s story captured the hearts of people around the globe after he spoke on an award-winning podcast called Ear Hustle, where real prisoners share stories of their daily realities on the inside. Almost overnight, Curtis’s segment, entitled “Left Behind,” received 750,000 hits.
“I think the perception is that we’re these monsters in here. I am not a monster. I’m a stupid idiot that did drugs and stole money. I’m still human, though.” Sentenced to Life is the story of his humanity and his redemption.
READ WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING:
“Curtis’s story is so compelling, full of twists and turns: some deeply disturbing and confounding while others are simply wondrous. In 2017, part of his story was turned into an Ear Hustle episode, called “Left Behind.” It remains one of our most listened-to, asked-about, and praised episodes. Sentenced to Life takes you even deeper into Curtis’s story and lays out plainly why we need to care about prison and sentencing reform.”
~Nigel Poor, co-host and co-creator of Ear Hustle from PRX’s Radiotopia, co-author of This Is Ear Hustle
~Chaplain Earl A. Smith, Sr., team pastor of the San Francisco 49ers, co-team pastor of the Golden State Warriors, former chaplain at San Quentin, and author of Death Row Chaplain
“Swallowed by a heartless system eager to lock away a petty criminal forever, Curtis Roberts survived decades of confinement, neglect, and occasional brutality. He emerged on the verge of old age into a changed world. Confronted by strange technology and social mores, he miraculously found love and contentment. His story has no easy morals. There are hapless defense lawyers and callous prosecutors and prison guards who delighted in his humiliation. But there are also compassionate corrections officials and the kindness of many strangers. It is in the end a remarkable story of human resilience and endurance.”
~George Fisher, Stanford Law School
“As you read Sentenced to Life you will see the power of God to change a life and use the ashes of one’s life to bring forth gold. Curtis Roberts’s story is powerful, and it is yet to be known how many lives will be changed because of the author’s heart being shared. The story of his journey of incarceration will give hope and wisdom to those who read Sentenced to Life. God is a God of redemption and change. Choices determine our destiny but when the heart changes, the choices change. This book is extremely powerful, and it will hold your interest until the end, a tool God will use to reach others for sure.”
~Scottie Barnes, founder, Forgiven Ministry: Bringing the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness to those behind bars
“Sentenced to Life is a gut-wrenching story of childhood trauma, substance use disorder, Level 4 prisons, rape, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, miracles, healing, and amazing grace.”
~Mitchell J. Bruckner, head deputy, LA County Public Defender
“This book brings to life the remarkable story of Curtis Roberts. Not only does it illustrate the cruel consequences of the Three Strikes policy, it also demonstrates the strength of the human spirit to survive the deplorable conditions in our prisons. This inspiring story provides an in-depth look at prison and the power that faith, rehabilitation, and legal aid can have on the trajectory of a prisoner’s life. It is a must-read and a call to action for criminal justice reform.”
~Meredith Mannion, Social Science teacher, Saint Ignatius College Preparatory, San Francisco