Bloom, Amy. Away. New York: Random House, 2007. ISBN: 9781400063567. $23.95.
Lillian Leyb is a heroine you are not likely to forget in this far-flung story of the immigrant experience in the 1920s. As Lillian seeks Sophie, her young daughter from whom she was separated during a pogrom, she journeys from Russia to New York City, across the continental United States and into Alaska. Bloom’s deft description of imaginative characters saves a rather unusual plot from disintegrating into a soap opera.
Englander, Nathan. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. New York: Vintage, 1999. ISBN: 9780375704437. $13.95, pb.
An award winning collection of nine short stories about being Jewish during the 20th century. Both witty and tragic, Englander’s writing enchanted some and mystified others. Most members did find a few stories that they really liked.
Franklin, Ariana. Mistress of the Art of Death. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007. ISBN: 9780399154140. $25.95.
Fascinating, albeit at times a bit gory, tale of 12th century England, when King Henry II looks for a physician to determine who murdered four Cambridge children, deeds being blamed on the local Jewish populace. Henry’s cousin, the King of Sicily, sends Adelia, a Jewish prodigy at the University of Salerno who is the “mistress of the art of death” and whose forensic insights and adventures make this thriller a spellbinding experience.
Idliby, Ranya; Oliver, Suzanne; Warner, Pamela. The Faith Club. New York: The Free Press, 2006. ISBN: 97807432904070. $25.00.
In this non-fiction work that is the voice of three New York City area women, Ranya, whose family came from Palestine and who grew up in Dubai, seeks an opportunity to discuss her faith with a Christian and a Jew after her children ask questions about their religion post 9/11. Ranya, Suzanne, and Pamela plan to write a children’s book together but their sessions create an intense opportunity to talk about Islam, Christianity and Judaism – what brings them together and where they differ. Book contains ways to start a Faith Club.
Nemirovsky, Irene. Suite Française. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. ISBN: 9781400044733. $25.00.
Although there is no specific Jewish content, this mesmerizing work of two novellas, Storm in June and Dolce, portraying French citizens at the beginning of World War II, was written while the author and her family had to flee Paris and were trying to escape the Nazi occupation. The manuscripts, recently discovered and translated, were in a suitcase kept by Nemirovsky’s daughter for more than 60 years. Nemirovsky captures the terror and the confusion of what was happening to ordinary people in those extraordinary times.
Patterson, Richard North. Exile. New York: Henry Holt, 2007. ISBN: 9780805079470. $26.00.
David Wolfe, an attorney aspiring for public office, decides to defend a former girlfriend, Hana Arif, a Palestinian accused of assassinating the Israeli prime minister. Patterson tackles contemporary Middle-East problems in this suspense-filled novel.
Ragen, Naomi. The Saturday Wife. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780312352387. $24.95.
Fans of Naomi Ragen will appreciate her story of an unorthodox Orthodox rabbi’s wife and how she relates to her husband’s congregants in suburbia. Delilah dreams of a better life but her attempts create disastrous results in this satiric novel.
Reich, Tova. My Holocaust. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN: 97800611773455. $24.95.
A scathing volume about what can happen when people fundraise for a good cause, in this case, Holocaust memorials, and end up promoting themselves. Upsetting, funny, biting, outrageous and very controversial, but well-written. Definitely raises ethical issues.
Sofer, Dalia. The Septembers of Shiraz. New York: Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN: 9780061130403. $24.95.
In this lyrically-written, partly autobiographical novel which takes place during the Iranian Revolution, Sofer brings to life the conditions that prevailed for Iranian Jews and others who were wrongly accused of treason. She also provides cultural and literary scenes that are not often pictured in the lifestyle families had to relinquish in order to survive.
Weber, Katharine. Triangle. New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2006. ISBN: 9780374281427. $23.00.
The “triangle” is the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, as well as triangular relationships describing Esther, the last living survivor of the 1911 fire, her children, her granddaughter Rebecca, Rebecca’s partner, and the historian Ruth Zion. This novel is an interesting twist on an event that is the focus of several recent books for adults and youth.
Yellin, Tamar. The Genizah At The House of Shepher. New Milford, CT: The Toby Press, 2005. ISBN: 9781592640850. $19.95.
Shulamit Shepher, an English-born biblical scholar, discovers family secrets in Israel while grappling with her own identity in this novel of the contrasts between Jewish life in the East and West during four generations of Shephers. Yellin’s command of the English language carries this award winning book rooted on incidents in her own life.
Zweibel, Adam. The Other Shulman. New York: Villard, 2005. ISBN: 9780812972832. $13.95, pb.
Shulman is an overweight stationery store owner who is having business and personal problems and decides to train for and run in the New York City Marathon. Told in 26 chapters, Shulman reviews his life and confronts “The other Shulman” a more ambitious thinner version of himself as he defines what is important to him. Funny, generally light novel for summer reading.