Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review of "All I Love And Know" by Judith Frank

In "All I Love And Know," Judith Frank has crafted a very complex and engaging story of a family torn asunder by a terrorist bombing in a cafe in Jerusalem.  Among those killed in the blast were Joel Rosen and his wife, Ilana.  In their will, they asked that their two children, five year-old,Gal and baby Noam, be raised by Joel's twin brother, Daniel and Daniel's partner, Matthew.

In the course of 400 pages, Ms. Frank explores many dimensions of the complications that ensue and asks poignant questions along the way:

  • In how many ways can a family be fractured by an act of terrorism?
  • How do the secular Israelis and the religious Jews co-exist in Israel?
  • How deeply do the hurts and trauma of Holocaust victims reverberate to the second and third generation?
  • How does a gay couple go about getting permission from an Israeli court to bring Israel children to America?
  • How does Matthew, as the odd man out, fulfill his roles as partner to Daniel and co-parent to the children? 
  • Is Gal's meanness and aggressiveness something she will grow out of?
  • Has Noam been so traumatized that he will not learn to talk or walk normally?
  • Will Matthew and Daniel stay together despite all of the pressures that seek to force them apart?
  • How does Daniel deal with his ambivalent feelings towards those who perpetrated the bombing?  
  • How does he respond to the campaign of hatred aimed at him after his statements in the wake of his brother's death create a fire storm?
  • How can the needs and wants of all of the grandparents involved in this case be juggled?

The action of the novel toggles back and forth between Israel and the academic enclave of Northampton, Massachusetts.  The twists and turns in the events and in the complex relationships among family and friends keeps the reader on the edge of her seat.  Ms. Frank does an excellent job of addressing these political hot potato issues without coming across as polemical.  The book serves as rewarding reading that is both entertaining and deeply thought-provoking.



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