Author Patti Friedmann has been told that “Too Jewish” was the book she was born to write. The “central tragedy” of the book, the author says, is that her own father carried with him the burden of survivor’s guilt, having escaped from the Nazi regime in Germany. He left at the age of 23, leaving his mother behind (she refused to leave).
While the book is labeled a work of fiction, it does seem that it closely parallels the author’s own life growing up Jewish in New Orleans. By her own description, her father ends up in the United States and joins the Army, and marries a “Jewish American Princess” (the author calls it a “mixed marriage” even though they are both Jewish).
One character in the story, Bernie Kuper (changed to “Cooper” at Ellis Island), is an observant Jew, while his wife Letty and her family are only nominally Jewish (Reformed). Bernie experiences a great deal of prejudice and grief from his own in-laws for being “too Jewish”. On top of all that, the thread of survivor’s guilt is woven throughout the story.
The book is actually three novellas: the first part is Bernie’s story; the second part Letty’s; and the third and last part is told from the viewpoint of their daughter, Darby. This aspect alone makes the book interesting. At times you might think it’s a bit “plodding”, but don’t let that deter you. By the time you get to the third part, the pace picks up and then BOOM something unexpected and shocking happens (my Mom and I had the exact same reaction — it will make an impression!).
I don’t want to give away too much. Ultimately, it is as one reviewer observed: “A powerful and emotional story of a Jewish family here in America.” (Life in Review). I believe it’s worth your time to read and learn even more about this period of history and the aftermath of the Nazi era and World War II.
I read the book through Amazon Prime Lending Library (I am an Amazon Prime Member – lots of great deals!). However, the book is currently listed on Amazon for $2.99 (I did not find it in Nook format).
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2013.