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In the spring of 1975, Ben Friedman will celebrate his rite of passage into adulthood. When his beloved grandfather suddenly dies and leaves him a mysterious inheritance, Ben begins to discover who he is and where he belongs. When he chooses a path his powerful father opposes, their relationship becomes volatile. Will Ben withstand the pressure?
In 1914, Dovid Weisman, Ben's great-grandfather, struggles to protect his family when Germany declares war on Russia and the brutal Cossacks occupy his village of Siedlce, Poland. He finds that love and opportunity are still possible. If they can escape with their lives.
Slipping between war-torn Poland and modern American life, one family’s story is woven together across three generations.
This was a good historical fiction novel, but that isn’t all it was to me. The look into Jewish life from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s was a history lesson for me. I knew a little about the Jewish faith, but this gives a very good picture and in much greater depth. Maybe a better way to describe it was that it taught me a little of what I’ll call the religious culture of Judaism, at least for the different time periods in very different circumstances. Reading about it from generation to generation made it even more interesting to me and filled me with the urge to learn more.
I did have a problem with the flow of the chapters. I don’t imagine it was a common occurrence to others but when this book begins, each chapter gives us the year about which we are reading. As it proceeds, all of a sudden, the chapters begin with headings with no dates. It was jarring to me. Silly thing, isn’t it? But it threw me, made me feel uncomfortable, as if I were seeing typos.
Whether this bothered me or not would never stop me from calling this an enjoyable book. It’s well-written and well-researched and a good read.
read an excerpt...
The Cossacks flew in all directions overturning furniture and emptying closets and cupboards. “I want my daughter back,” Dovid repeated, pretending he was not the one who rescued her. “Are you a gambling man?” Aleksandrov smiled. “I’ll make you a wager,” Dovid sized up Aleksandrov. “We arm wrestle and if I win, you back off and I get my daughter back.” he stood resolute as though unaware that he was outnumbered and outgunned. “And if I win, what do I get?” Aleksandrov’s nostrils flared and he smiled with amusement. “My other daughter,” Dovid stood eyeball-to-eyeball with Aleksandrov. Neither
backed down. The dragoon gathered around the table, broken glass screeched beneath their boots. Aleksandrov removed his saber and his tunic. Hairy as a bear, he stepped close to the table with his right foot forward, and placed his elbow on the table. Dovid removed his wool coat and rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt. While physical strength mattered, he knew this was as much about positioning as strength. He placed his elbow on the table, tightened his core muscles, and opposed Aleksandrov. The two men gripped each other’s hand. The goal was to pin the other’s arm onto the surface of the table, the winner’s arm over the loser’s. Mikola slammed his palm on the table and the wrestling began. In an instant, merriment filled the room and the Cossacks began their howls of encouragement and support for their commander.
about D.G. Schulman...
D.G Schulman is a publishing executive who married the boy next door and lives in the Midwest, where she and her husband raised their two daughters. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and her Master of Arts in Communication from Eastern Michigan University. She's the recipient of an Avery and Jule Hopwood award in the novel category and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. When she's not in front of a keyboard, she enjoys making chocolate, growing herbs, cooking, reading, and playing with her growing brood of grandkids.
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