Thursday, June 25, 2009

Starting Book Club

Those of you that follow my blog know that I have had a hard time keeping Our book club, The 38th Ave. Diva Readers, going this year.The 38th Ave. I am not sure what is going to happen.

Now for some good news. Our new Jewish book club was formed this evening. Unfortunately, we forgot to name our selves. But that can be next time. Our first meeting was wonderful. We discussed Who By Fire By Diana Spechler.

I read this a second time around and appreciated it much more. The book is about a family of three siblings. The youngest sibling is kidnapped. Ellie asked Ash to watch his younger sister, Alena.

The husband eventually leaves the family. The whole family has emotional issues and baggage. They have guilt and blame toward each other and themselves.

Bits deals with the kidnapping by compulsively having sex. Ash deals with the kidnapping by becoming a Bal T'shuva( return Jew). Bits decides to take the plunge and move to Israel and live in a Yeshiva( house of study). The Ellie falls in love with Jonathan. Jonathan and Ellie work together to form a plan to get Ash out of the "cult" in Israel. Jonathan hires a young girl to lure Ash out of the Yeshiva.

Bits, flys to Israel to attempt to bring Ash back. Through all this the family has made several attempts to contact Ash. Ash has cut all contact with the family. Ellie, the mother informs Bits, that her sister's hairs were dug up and found. Bits plans to bring Ash back to the U.S. for the funeral. Ash doesn't want any part of it. Ash has religious searching to do. Ash leave the Yeshiva and meets a Chabad rabbi on the beach. The Rabbi talks him into returning to the states to help the family.

In time we find out that Jonathan is working with a young girl to get Ash out of the cult. There is something suspicious about Jonathan. He is conning Ellie for more money, and he has done this in the past. Jonathan keeps claiming that this kind of Jewish life is a cult. "We have to get him out"

Bits finds out from her aunt that there was not going to be a funeral after all. Her sister's body was never found. This was a story to make Ash come back to the states.

Ash does eventually come back to help take care of her sister. Bits finds out that Bits is pregnant. Ash is staying till he knows she can take care of herself, and the baby. He does plan to go back to Israel when he is no longer needed.

My reaction to the story is this is a dysfunctional family. They are all nuts. The family has a hard time communicating with one another and telling them the truth.
They seem to all want to rescue each other. The sister wants to rescue Ash. The mother wants to rescue Ash and Bits, Ash wants to rescue Bits. The whole family is full of guilt and blame.

I don't like the mother she seems to deal with the guilt by blaming both of the kids. Especially placing the blame on Bits for everything that her brother does. The brother has guilt because he was suppose to be watching Alena when she went out to play and she was kidnapped and never found. He becomes more observant to deal with his sister's kidnapping since this is the only way for him to deal with it. Both of the children live with the guilt that the mother puts on them every day.

I love character study and that is what this book was. It was not a straight narrative. It went back and forth to the characters. I just enjoyed reading this book becauses of this. Everyone was trying to rescue everyone and blame and shame.

Here is what happens when you try to rescue someone. You find out you are the one that needs the rescuing

On Yom Kippur, the most holiest day of the Jewish calendar. This is judgement day.
On Yom Kippur is will be sealed
How many shall pass away
How many shall be born
Who shall live and who will die
Who shall reach end of his days and who shall not.
Who shall perish by water and WHO BY FIRE

The book club reaction: None of them liked the book. The thought the story was totally bizarre. Which I tend to agree with them. When people say they hate the book they tend not to discuss and that makes not a very good meeting. I thought even though I did not particular like the story. I did like the character study. There was alot to discuss.

Administrative Notes:
We will be meeting four times a year. We will read Jewish books either with content or the author is Jewish. The person that decides on the book will be hostess. Even though it technically is not a Jewish book. But does take place in Europe during WW2. We decided on this one. We will be Monday, September 14th at 7PM.
We are going to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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