This weekend, I read David Laskin’s novel, The Family.
In short, this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.
Mr. Laskin narrates the tale of his mother’s family, starting with his great-great grand parents, Shimon Dov HaKohen and Beyle Shapiro, who lived in the shtetl of Rakov and the yeshiva center of Volozhin, which is now in Belarus.
Shimon Dov and Beyle have six children and numerous grandchildren, all choosing different paths in life. One branch of the family emigrated to the United States and became successful business owners. Another made Aaliyah to what was then Palestine and became pioneers of modern day Israel. The third stayed in Europe and became part of the martyred six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.
This book could have sounded like a history book or a boring documentary. But it doesn’t. Each member of Mr. Laskin’s family has their own voice and their own story to tell. The details are so vivid that one doesn’t have to be Jewish or have roots in Eastern Europe to be caught up in this world.
I couldn’t put it down, the book is nearly 400 pages long, but it doesn’t feel like it is 400 pages. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a good book.