As encouraged by Maria, Kelly and Mel when I wrote my first non flash fiction post for my blog, here is a book review… a first for my flash fiction only blog 😱
Please Say Kaddish For Me by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
Reviewed by Kelvin M. Knight
The format of a book I want to read is important to me. I reluctantly read this book in Kindle format, on my iPhone rather than on my Kindle because my Kindle refused to download this book or any other book on Amazon for that matter. I say reluctant because I tried purchasing Please Say Kaddish For Me in paperback format from the author directly (so I could get the book signed while hopefully also getting a personal message). Despite Rochelle’s best efforts, the price of shipment from America to the UK was too high for me.
The point in telling you this? Simple. Resigning myself to reading this book on my tiny iPhone 5c screen, getting re-used to percent complete rather than page numbers, did not deter my enjoyment. Quite the reverse, actually; the ability to top up my usual regimented reading times by dipping in and out of this book, wherever I was, whenever I had a spare five minutes or so (my iPhone is on my person always, unlike my manbag containing books, wallet, key and lunchbox), actually enhanced my enjoyment. And, and, the icing on the cake – Rochelle sent me a homemade card by airmail, with the covers of her four books on them and a lovely handwritten and signed message inside. The best of both worlds.
The ability to dip in an out of this book is poignant as the story dips in and out of the characters’ lives. And what a cast of characters. No… what an extended family. This theme of family extends from this book in a way that is both heartwarming and heart-aching. Right from the first chapter, where the heroine, Havah, flees for her life, you know you are in the hands of a capable storyteller.
The tone of narration has a familiar feel to it, which I think is due to the psychic distance of the omniscient viewpoint, where we always remain close to the storytelling character’s viewpoint, and never slip into the author’s viewpoint, which can jar and, if done too frequently, can jerk a reader out of the fictive dream.
There is no jarring or jerking in this prose. The narration feels smooth, despite the hardships heaped upon Havah and those she cares for. She is a true survivor, and indicative of the spiritual backbone of the Jewish faith. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a religious book, but there is a quiet strength of faith about this story and in the delivery of this story, that I was often left with a sense of peacefulness whenever and wherever in my busy day I found time to read more.
The other thing I enjoyed about this book were the topics tackled: from the graphic portrayal of amputation, to the loveliness of child birth; the beauty of love, to the tragedy of death; the passion of true love to the duty of love unfound and unfounded. There are so many human emotions all bundled up believably in this story, and overarched by loss. And yet, as typified in Fruma Ya’el, who literally breathes love, there is always hope.
This theme of hope, this trust that things will turn out for the best, no matter what the hardship, is the main theme I loved. One that even now, while performing a final edit of this review for self-publication, still brings a tear to my eye.
If my review has encouraged you to want to sample or purchase this book, please find links to Amazon etc on the author’s site -> here.