It might make you a little mad to see the parallels of post-World War II Romania in today’s good ole US of A, but if you’re looking for a good book to take along on your fall hunting trips this year, read No Paved Road to Freedom by Sharon Rushton. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperbacks and e-books for Kindle and Nook, I can’t recommend this book enough.

An award-winning, fictional account of a true story, Rushton writes a gripping tale showing young Cornel Dolana’s courage as foreign occupiers violate his homeland of Romania. Russian Communists push incrementally, and the Dolana family fights the infiltration of a system that applies the moniker “fair” to every injustice it perpetrates, including “trading” the family’s meager farm plots for other acreage far away and less fertile. After all, it is only fair that the good, productive land becomes community property.

The saga unfolds over Cornel’s coming of age and his plight to find freedom—no matter the cost. The 21-year-old student plots his life-endangering escape plan with the fear of imminent death as his constant companion. His journey endures gun shots, cold-river swims, imprisonment, cruel beatings, as well as near starvation and hypothermia.

Unable to trust anyone—anyone—means incredible loneliness abounds during the planning and the journey.

Rushton, an accomplished outdoor writer and former professional bass angler (hence my comfort writing a book review for fellow outdoor enthusiasts), is an award-winning leader in the world of outdoor communications. She created the school-based curriculum “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” when she was executive director of the Future Fisherman Foundation. Writing this story took her through a little bit of a deviation from the usual fishing magazine articles of her career, but she’s glad she did it.

Cornel Dolana (right) and his son Corey in Connecticut in 2006.
Cornel Dolana (right) and his son Corey in Connecticut in 2006.

“It took seven years from the first time I met Cornel to the completed book,” said Rushton. “After hearing parts of Cornel’s story, first from his son and then later from meeting him personally, I realized this story couldn’t be lost. It had to be told.”

This is a tale of a hunger and thirst for freedom that perhaps those of us born and raised in America may not fully understand. Then again, the constant creep of disappearing freedoms in today’s United States may heighten our interest in this story. Have we finally realized how precious they are?

What would we do if faced with a dilemma such as Cornel’s? Stay and comply with an authority that randomly seizes personal property and throws detractors in jail on trumped up charges…or flee?

No Paved Road to Freedom chronicles overwhelming odds that Cornel would not survive the steps he devised to court freedom. Still, he took them. The saga, a page-turner in Rushton’s capable hands, humanizes a family’s struggle against oppression and shows courage and depth of character.

Cornel became a legal immigrant, sponsored by a church in Connecticut in the 1960s, but that was after his harrowing journey to breathe free air. Americans like Cornel and his son Cornel, Jr. (Corey), show us a passion for life and a willingness to risk all for freedom. Cornel often speaks at special events.

Order a copy for yourself today and order a copy or two for a gift to give this fall. A heart that longs for freedom is a story worth remembering. You will appreciate the foundational truth in the title and inside the pages of No Paved Road to Freedom.

See for more information.

K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at

Images courtesy Sharon Rushton

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One thought on “Book Review: ‘No Paved Road to Freedom’

  1. A very interesting review, K.J. Though I knew what No Paved Road to Freedom was about, I didn’t know Sharon Rushton’s background as an outdoor writer and bass angler. Fascinating! I look forward to reading the book!

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