This Is Not a Love Story: A Memoir
by: Little, Brown and Company
Product rating: 4.0 with 3 reviews
A razor-sharp, hilarious, and poignant memoir about growing up in the closed world of the ultraorthodox Jewish community.
The third of six children in a family that harks back to a gloried Hassidic dynasty, Judy Brown grew up with the legacy of centuries of religious teaching, and the faith and lore that sustained her people for generations.
But her carefully constructed world begins to crumble when her “crazy” brother Nachum returns home after a year in Israel living with relatives. Though supposedly “cured,” he is still prone to retreating into his own mind or erupting in wordless rages. The adults’ inability to make him better – or even to give his affliction a name – forces Judy to ask larger questions: If God could perform miracles for her sainted ancestors, why can’t He cure Nachum? And what of the other stories her family treasured?
Judy starts to negotiate with God, swinging from holy tenets to absurdly hilarious conclusions faster than a Talmudic scholar: she goes on a fast to nab coveted earrings; she fights with her siblings at the dinner table for the ultimate badge of honor (“Who will survive the next Holocaust?”); and she adamantly defends her family’s reputation when, scandalously, her parents are accused of having fallen in love—which is absolutely not what pious people do.
For all its brutal honesty about this insular community, This Is Not a Love Story is ultimately a story of a family like so many others, whose fierce love for each other and devotion to their faith pulled them through the darkest time in their lives.
Posted in Jewish Tagged with: Brown and Company, Little, Love, Memoir, Story, this
Henna House: A Novel
Product rating: 4.5 with 271 reviews
“A touching coming-of-age story” (Publishers Weekly
) in the tradition of Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent
, about a young woman, her family, their community and the customs that bind them, from “a storyteller of uncommon energy and poise” (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
This vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920. Adela Damari’s parents’ health is failing as they desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter, who is in danger of becoming adopted by the local Muslim community if she is orphaned. With no likely marriage prospects, Adela’s situation looks dire—until she meets two cousins from faraway cities: a boy with whom she shares her most treasured secret, and a girl who introduces her to the powerful rituals of henna. Ultimately, Adela’s life journey brings her old and new loves, her true calling, and a new life as she is transported to Israel as part of Operation On Wings of Eagles.
Rich, evocative, and enthralling, Henna House
is an intimate family portrait interwoven with the traditions of the Yemenite Jews and the history of the Holocaust and Israel. This sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness—and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart—will captivate readers until the very last page.
Posted in Jewish Tagged with: Henna, House, Novel, Scribner
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel
by: Grand Central Publishing
Product rating: 4.0 with 207 reviews
Now in paperback, bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman’s IndieNext Pick novel about an immigrant girl’s transformation into an indomitable businesswoman in early 20th century New York.
As a child in 1913, Malka Treynovsky flees Russia for New York with her family–only to be crippled and abandoned in the streets. Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, Malka survives. When she falls in love with Albert, they set off together across America in an ice cream truck to seek their fortune; slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, “The Ice Cream Queen of America”–doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality.
Spanning 70 years, Lillian’s rise–fraught with setbacks, triumphs, and tragedies–is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. And when her past starts catching up with her, her world implodes spectacularly.
Posted in Jewish Tagged with: Cream, Grand Central Publishing, Novel, Orchard, Queen, Street
The Boston Girl: A Novel
Product rating: 4.0 with reviews
New York Times
An unforgettable novel about a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century, told “with humor and optimism…through the eyes of an irresistible heroine” (People
)—from the acclaimed author of The Red Tent
Anita Diamant’s “vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood” (Los Angeles Times
), follows the life of one woman, Addie Baum, through a period of dramatic change. Addie is The Boston Girl, the spirited daughter of an immigrant Jewish family, born in 1900 to parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End of Boston, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, to finding the love of her life, eighty-five-year-old Addie recounts her adventures with humor and compassion for the naïve girl she once was.
Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl
is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world. “Diamant brings to life a piece of feminism’s forgotten history” (Good Housekeeping
) in this “inspirational…page-turning portrait of immigrant life in the early twentieth century” (Booklist
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2014: There’s a lot that’s familiar about The Boston Girl. A tale of a plucky immigrant girl at the turn of the century, it addresses some of the same themes as other contemporary novels, including the author’s breakout The Red Tent: religion, feminism, the pull between tradition and the modern world. Here, our heroine is Addie Baum of Boston, now in her eighties telling the story of her life to her twentysomething granddaughter. And what a life it was: born in 1900, Addie survived the travails of aggressive greenhorn parents, world wars, abusive men and a flu epidemic to become a woman, finally, with a voice and a life of her own. What makes this story engaging is just that old-fashioned straightforwardness, as well as its perfect ear for the locutions of the time. Someone is “smiling to beat the band.” Addie “can really cut a rug.” You had to “kiss a lot of frogs before [you] found a prince.” No wonder this book rings so true: reading it feels like lazing away a winter afternoon with a beloved aging relative paging through a family scrapbook. – Sara Nelson
Posted in Jewish Tagged with: Boston, Girl, Novel, Scribner