Monthly Archives: May 2008

Awake in the Dark, by Shira Nayman

Awake in the Dark, by Shira Nayman…I give it Five Stars!!

Reality is stranger than insanity. It is reality that defies comprehension.”
Shira Nayman’s intense stories are written with insight, courage, and brilliance. This amazingly written collection brings to life, the after-effects of the lives of the characters, all Survivors of the Holocaust.

The passage of time and place, does not necessarily lesson the pain, and in fact, the pain continues, not only within the soul of the Survivor, but also continues on through the generations, with the burdens, history, and guilt becoming a lagacy handed down to the children of the Survivors.

From a woman who returns to Germany, the place of her birth, and discovers the house of her childhood; to another woman, who has traveled through the light, through horrors and demeaning moments, and finally gives birth to a daughter; to a psychiatric patient who intuitively knows she has a connection with her psychiatrist, the stories unfold with intense darkness, sadness and poignancy.

Self-discovery, is found in every story. Secrets, once locked, are unlocked, lives saved, are not necessarily lives that have been lived happily, and we see how the past has formed and molded the mindsets of the Survivors and their children in the present. Secrets that were kept, have repercussions through their silence, superficial faces, put on, to keep out the pain, release the turmoil in ways never expected.
Nayman writes with boldness and courage, never willing to remove or leave out harsh words, to soften the story. We read the pain and emotion, feel it, head on, and are engulfed within the pages, unable to stop reading, and unable to forget the stories, long after we have finished reading them.

~~Book Diva

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A Pigeon and a Boy, by Meir Shalev

A Pigeon and a Boy: A Novel, by Meir Shalev

I recently finished reading (literally) the incredible novel, A Pigeon and a Boy, by Meir Shalev. After reading the jacket, I decided it was a book I wanted to read, and must read, immediately. The book didn’t disappoint me in the least, in fact I was quite surprised, emotionally overwhelmed and amazed at the content and how it affected me.

I am still wrapped in the emotional aftermath from reading this incredible story of love and its power, enduring from the years before Israel’s independence, and through the decades to follow. I am reminded of the fragility of life. This novel details so brilliantly what once was, what could have been, what is, and what the present and future holds.

The story line focuses on a destiny of sorts. During the 1948 War of Independence homing pigeons were often used to deliver messages to the war front. During one battle scene a pigeon handler dispatches one final pigeon, before his death, carrying one amazing message to the girl who awaits it on the receiving end, the girl he has loved since childhoold.

The novel is rich in characters, characters with depth, and rich in vivid details that one can not only visualize, but also feel. We see the emotional waves and veins of life course through the years. Another character is Yair Mendelsohn, who is a tour guide, who specializes in bird-watching trips. He seems lost in time’s continuum, stuck in another realm. His dying mother leaves him an inheritance, with which she would like him to build a house, a home.

The novel is a metaphor for several things, including time and place love and loss, family and what defines “home”. Is home an illumination or place in the heart, is it a physical place, is it genetic memory surfacing, ist is a place we can return to, renovate, build, or is it all or none of those? These are questions we are left to ponder after reading this exellent novel, written with insight and sensitivity to life and to nature, and a universal and extraordinary story, a novel that Shalev has written so beautifully and masterfully.

The heart-wrenching book will stay with me for a long time.

~~Book Diva

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