Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The World Without You: Book Review





The World Without You
By Joshua Henkin
Copy from the author


The World Without You, was given to me by the author a few months ago. I was very excited to receive this novel.  Joshua, had sent out mass emails for promotion of his books a few months ago.

He is a large promoter of book clubs. He was one of the first author's when I started our book club to ask if he would do a conference call, for his novel Matrimony. Unfortunately, that did not work out.

I just love how he believes in book clubs and goes out of he's way to to come to a book club. If you don't believe me, check out he's website. He will come to your book club if you live in the metro NYC area. Unfortunately, our book club does not. But, he will do a conference call or skype.  That is pretty impressive.

It is fourth of July weekend in the Berkshire Mountains. A Jewish family, the Glucksman's. have come together for a very unhappy reunion.  They all have come from different parts of the country, and  Israel for Leo's unveiling at their parents home in the Berkshires. .

Leo was a daredevil, and only son of three other sisters of the family. He was always trying to make the rights of the world. He was living with his free spirit girlfriend, Thisbe in California. Eventually they were married and had a child, named Calder. Thisbe never felt accepted by Leo's parents.  She always felt like a outcast.

His parents, Marilyn and David have been married for years. They have a winter home in the upper east side of New York City, and they have a summer home in the Berkshires.
 During the reunion, something slips about Marilyn and David. This will change the family dynamics for good.

Then there are the three sisters, and their husbands. Oh, what pairs they make for each other.
Clarissa, Lily, and Noelle.

Clarissa, the older sister watched over Leo. She was proud, maternal sister of her younger brother and hovered over him.    When she got married she did not know if she wanted to become a parent or not. Her husband Nathaniel has convinced her to have children.  Now, for the sake of their marriage she decided she will try. 

 On the eve of the reunion, she learns the news about her and her husband's fertility issues. Can she? or can't she?  Then there is the issue of Clarissa, and Lily, they are competitive siblings. 

On the drive up to the Berkshires, she was suppose to pick up Noelle and her husband and small children, they were traveling from Israel. Instead Lily, came through.

 Clarissa made some kind of  excuse, but she had Nathaniel had to stop at one of the sleezy hotels, as this was the best time to have sex according to the fertility stick. You just knew this was what was going to happen. It flowed with the story. I was cracking up, laughing.

Noelle, is the youngest sister to Leo. She  is a observant Jew, living in Israel with her young children, and her husband Amram.  Before she married, living in NYC.  She was not a studious student, she was the lost soul.  She was playing around with every guy she could meet, until she moved to Israel.  She became a observant Jew, where she met her husband. 

Noelle, was the last person to see Leo alive. He spent Shabbat dinner with them and then left for Iraq.
Where he was captured, and eventually killed.  She was the jealous sister. Always ratting on each of them and was jealous of each of their accomplishments. It felt like she regretted her decision to become observant.  Noelle spills the beans again about something. SHE JUST HAD TO TELL!! To make that person look bad.

 Lily is  independent, and self reliant.  She lives in Washington D. C. with her boyfriend Malcolm, a chef.

  There is FIREWORKS,  Actually, in this book there is plenty of fireworks, with family dynamics and emotions, on Fourth of July weekend.

My Review:
This was a terrific read. If I am going to read a book, on character study or family dynamics it has to hit me like a ton of bricks, and has to captivate me. Well, it did, right from the get go. You can read a most recent review in the New York Times.

 The story grabbed me, and did not let me go. I wanted to know what happened to the characters. There were characters I loved, and others not so much. Not because the author did a terrible job. But, because the story was that good. The story flowed, and I did not have to flip back, and say what. I did not want the book to end.

 There is a happy ending in the story. That is a first, most books like this have abrupt end. This one did not.

This story hit home for me because my youngest brother a journalist, for the Army Times.  He has been in Afghanistan and Iraq several times. Was it coincidence that I am reviewing? or fate, who knows. But, it connected me to the story thinking, what if.....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Re-Posting of I Am Forbidden





I Am Forbidden
By Anoux Markovits


I am re-posting in honor of the author's publishing date is in May. I want to make sure to spread the word about a good book this is.

I Am Forbidden, takes place in 1939 in Transylvania in the Satmar Community.
Josef a little boy, witnesses the murder of his parents by the Nazi regime. He is rescued by a Christian maid.

Five years later. Josef rescues a Jewish girl, Mila after her parents were killed running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalma Stern, the leader of the Satmar Community. There the Zalman's raise Mila as their own with their own daughter, Atara.

Meanwhile Josef is sent to America, specifically Williamsburg, in New York City.
As the girls mature, Mila's faith becomes observant as any person would, being raised in the Satmar community. While Atara's faith is continually questioned with the love of books, arts, and learning not by the Satmar traditions but by the secular world. She continually questions the fundamental ideas of the Jewish, and Satmar community.

When the girls reach adulthood. Mila marries in the faith. But, Atara is banished by the community and her parents. For years the girls don't speak, or contact each other until one day.
Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to to question the fundamental ideas of the Satmar Jewish faith.

After 10 years of marriage Mila is unable to conceive. She makes one decision that will affect her marriage and her children for years to come.

My Review: I picked up this novel because it was about the Satmar Jews. I don't know much about this sect. I have been exposed to orthodox, modern orthodox, and Chabad, but never to the Satmar. I had to do my own research to find out about them.

Reading this novel, was a eye opener. The author wrote this to open up a discussion about fundamentalism. There is many things as I am reading the novel, I don't agree with. Some of the traditions are very extreme.

I would think if you were raised in the Satmar community you would not question because you don't know anything different. But, as you get older the world opens up to you.
Mila did something that was life changing and never told anyone. This lie cost her, her marriage and her family.

I enjoyed reading, most of the novel I could not put it down to the very end. If you like historical fiction, and Jewish Faith, and Bible, and Jewish communities, you will like I Am Forbidden.