Tag Archives: Jewish Experience

Review: Judas

Judas

Judas
By Amos Oz
Mariner Books, 9781328745491, November 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Really made me think about religion in general. Was Judas a hero? In this book, Oz poses the question.

The Rest of It:

This was a book club pick. Going into it, I had few expectations because I really didn’t know much about it. I have to say, this was probably a good thing.

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. ~ Indiebound

I found this book to be very good for discussion but not as enjoyable to read as I had hoped. The romantic element between two of the characters seemed a tad forced and not terribly realistic. I liked parts of the story. A young student, listening to stories and learning from an elder was appealing to me but Atalia was cold as ice. I never warmed to her.

The political elements were not excessive but provided enough background to give me a feel for the conflict of that region. As a discussion book, it was excellent. We had plenty to talk about. The possibility of Judas being a hero was something we had to wrap our brains around. Throughout history he has been recognized as a traitor. That brought up the question, what is a traitor and is being one always bad?

Interesting, huh? Well, that’s all I have. I will say that reading other books while reading this one was not possible so I’m glad this one is behind me but if your club needs a good discussion book, give this one a try.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron
By Jim Shepard
Vintage, Paperback, 9781101872741, May 2016, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Based on true events, Shepard tells the story of a young boy and his family as they struggle to survive Germany’s occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Rest of It:

There are many books written about the Holocaust. Some are beautifully written and nearly all of them are pretty heavy in tone. This one is a little different. The story is told from a young boy’s point of view. A young boy who happens to be street smart and a bit of a wretch. Somehow, that makes the story he’s telling a little easier to digest.

Although not likable, Aron is a survivor and he comes in contact with many characters both young and old who directly impact him and his quality of life. Hunger, illness, lice outbreaks and the continued loss of personal property and loved ones, puts Aron on the street, and that is where he meets Dr. Janusz Korczak, a pediatrician , the true hero of this story.

As I said earlier, although fictionalized, the story is based on true events and when I turned that last page, I was eager to know more about Dr. Janusz Korczak (birthname Hersz Goldszmit). I think Shepard could have written the entire book about him.

All in all, The Book of Aron was a good book to discuss. The book club that I belong to had plenty to say about it. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning but it picked up about halfway through. I hesitate to say it but for a book with this subject matter, the tone felt lighter to me than most. It wasn’t particularly heavy until the end.

I’ve never read anything by Shepard before but now I am interested in reading his other book, Project X, about middle-school (another heavy topic),

Have you read The Book of Aron or Project X?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.