Tag Archives: Naomi Ragen Book Review

The Devil In Jerusalem Book Review

Sometimes, we make a choice and we never know where that choice will lead.

Several months ago, author Naomi Ragen released her newest book, The Devil In Jerusalem.

The novel starts off with two intertwining stories that slowly become one.

Two young boys are taken to the hospital with severe injuries. Detective Bina Tzedek is assigned to the case. The boy’s mother, Daniella Goodman, does not have the normal reaction that the reader would expect from a mother whose children are in the hospital.

The novel then flashes back to earlier stages  in Daniella’s life. She starts off the novel as a young woman, having just met the man she will marry. Shlomie and Daniella marry young and go on to have 7 children.  Wanting to become more religious, they decide to make Aaliyah (emigrate) to Israel.

And that is where the problems start.

Shlomie is more interesting in studying Torah than supporting his family. Daniella goes along with her husband’s wishes, but it soon becomes apparent that their marriage is in trouble. Trying to repair their marriage and provide for their children, Daniella and Shlomie join the ultra-religious communities in Jerusalem. Their problems go from bad to worse, leading to their youngest sons hospital stay and the police interest from Bina.

Can Bina find out what happened to the boys or will the truth stay hidden?

This book is nothing short of riveting. As I got further into the story, I kept wondering what kind of mother Daniella was to allow her children to go through what they went through. The ending, while partially predictable halfway through the end, was just shocking enough.

I recommend it.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books

Chains Around The Grass: The Ups and Downs Of Life

Life is never smooth, nor is it predictable. Sometimes the moment when we think we have hit the lowest moment in our lives, that is actually the moment that we have begun to pick up the pieces of our lives.

Naomi Ragen’s 2002 novel, Chains Around The Grass, is about just this.  In the early 1950s, six year old Sara has just lost her father.  Her mother, Ruth, is left to raise three young children by herself.  Ruth must find the courage and strength within herself to raise her children without her husband.

I enjoyed the novel. Ms. Ragen takes the reader in quickly to the world of this family. The loss of their father and husband is potent to the reader.  My only criticism is in the description of the novel, Sara is named as the main character. When in reality, if there is a main character, it is Sara’s  father whose absence creates a hole in the hearts of his family members that can never be truly filled.

I recommend this novel.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books

The Tenth Song- Life’s Twists and Turns

Life is never simple. Our path’s are never straight and narrow. Sometimes the greatest trials we endure lead us to the future we didn’t think of, but when we get to that future, it’s where we were meant to be.

Four years ago, Naomi Ragen broken from her standard storytelling (A young women who rebels from a religious Jewish family) with The Tenth Circle.

She opens the book with  a tell tale line “It happened, like all horrible things happen, at the most inconvenient time”.

Abigail Samuels is living the perfect life. She and her husband, Adam, a successful accountant have three children.  Their youngest daughter, Kayla is in her final year at Harvard Law School, recently engaged to a doctor. When Adam is arrested, accused of funneling money to a terrorist organization, their lives are turned upside down.  Not knowing how to deal with the sudden changes in her life, Kayla drops out of school and flees to Israel.

In the Israeli desert, she meets a mystical religious guru who changes her life. When Abigail is sent to Israel to bring her daughter back to America, she begins to heal from the sudden changes and pain in her life.

I loved this book.  I couldn’t put it down.  Ms. Ragen took a risk, and it was well worth it.  The journey of this family and the changes that they are forced to make felt so real to me.  I could feel their fear, the pain, the agony of not knowing what would happen.

The Tenth Song- A Good Book

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Reviews

The Sisters Weiss Book Review

There is always something about an ultra-religious insular community that always seems to intrigue the less religious, more modern secular world.

Naomi Regan has made a career of writing about women in the ultra-orthodox Jewish communities of Israel and New York. I’ve read Jephte’s Daughter, Sotah, and the Sacrifice of Tamar, but it’s been a few years since I’ve delved into the her novels.

Her latest novel, The Sisters Weiss, tells the story of two sisters and the very different paths their lives take.

Growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in the 1950’s, Rose and Pearl Weiss are raised in a loving ultra-orthodox family. At the beginning of the book, Rose is the good girl, favored by her parents over her  younger trouble making sister. When Rose meets Michelle, she is exposed to the outside world and begins to slowly rebel from her parents and her community.  The night before Rose is supposed to marry a boy chosen for her, she runs away, affecting everyone in her family, including her younger sister.

40 years later, Pearl’s youngest daughter, Rivka is eager to experience the world and runs away. Her mysterious and unknown Aunt Rose seems to be the best person to run to. Rose has been exiled from her family. Because of Rivka’s actions, both Rose and Pearl must not only deal with the world they were raised in, but also the consequences of their actions.

Since it’s been a number of years since I’ve read Ms. Ragen’s books, I’ve forgotten what an incredible writer she is.  These characters could be very stereotypical, but they aren’t.  The relationship between the sisters seemed real, no different than any other sibling relationship.  I could understand Rose’s rebellion, but I also understood Pearl’s need to cling to the life and the beliefs that she was raised with.

You don’t have to be religious or Jewish to enjoy this novel. I highly recommend it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Reviews