Lovely story about living life to its fullest

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The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

When tragedy strikes the City of Kiev in Ukraine, Katya and Sasha are blissfully unaware of what is happening to their world.  All they know is that the days are unusually warm and the water is like a bath and they delight in it.  Years later when their son, Yuri, is born in America, they learn that unseen forces from that long ago time has caused their baby to be born with a heart condition.  He needs to be protected from germs so is unable to attend school.  A young, dedicated teacher Maggie is asked to tutor Yuri but at first is reluctant to do so because of childhood memories that still cause her pain.  But when she meets Yuri, she gladly agrees to teach him as she knows she has met someone who will be very special in her life.

This lovely book truly touched my heart in many ways.  There’s the love story of Katya and Sasha and Katya’s dream of becoming a ballerina.  There’s the story of Katya and Sasha who come to America as immigrants with so much hope for the future, only to learn of their child’s illness.  There’s the story of Maggie as a young girl who suffered a loss she never is able to leave behind her.  There’s the story of the grown up Maggie whose soul rejoices every time she walks into her classroom and faces the children she cares so much for.  But most of all there’s the story of Yuri, whose soul refuses to bend under adversity and who teaches all around him how to live each day to its fullest.

This is the first book I’ve read by Alyson Richmond.  She’s a writer whose poetic side shines throughout her work.  The ending is one of the most touching I’ve ever read.  I can only wish that my own grandsons will always have teachers as dedicated as Maggie.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

 

Dig in and explore this literary work

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The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Harry Tabor is about to be honored as Man of the Decade for his charitable works.  His family are on their way to his home to join him and his wife, Roma, who is a child psychologist.  His son, Simon, is a lawyer and will be bringing with him his wife and two young daughters.  His daughter, Camille, is a social anthropologist and his daughter, Phoebe, is a lawyer.  They’re all so proud of Harry and each of them have their own reasons for wanting this occasion to be a family-bonding one.

But Harry’s mind seems to have been playing tricks with him and hiding some vital memories.  Those memories start to resurface, helped along by a voice in Harry’s mind and even a vision or two.   As the memories increase, Harry’s jubilation at his upcoming honor starts to crumble.  Is he the honorable man he thought he was?  His children, whose lives seemed all so perfect, are also struggling with their own demons.  Simon can’t sleep at nights and has discovered a desire for Judaism, Camille is having career setbacks and has taken a job at a hospice and Phoebe has an imaginary boyfriend as she can’t face her family with her loveless life.  None of them are being truthful with each other or their parents.  Poor Roma knows her husband and children are having problems but can’t get them to confide in her.

I was completely blown away by this author’s debut book, “The Resurrection of Joan Ashby”.  While I can’t say the same about her newest effort, I did enjoy it.  It took me awhile to become invested with the characters and the writing was sometimes a bit too ponderous for me.   But I grew to care for this family very much.  I think Simon’s story touched me the most.  He was a good father and husband and his new-found desire to explore his Jewish roots should never have had the outcome it did.  I felt so crushed for him.  Roma took on the troubles of each of her loved ones and was such a true-to-life character.  As for the Man of the Decade, Harry, his journey in this book is definitely a compelling one.

I think the book may not be to everyone’s taste and that’s a shame because there are such wonderful literary tidbits throughout.  There’s no fast paced plot here and the writing can be a bit heavy at times.  But to those who like a book that you can dig into and explore like an archaeological excavation, I do recommend this one.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

Haunting and unforgettable story

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The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

 

This book tells the story of the Zimmer family, a Jewish family living in Vienna in the late 1930’s, and the parents’ decision to send little Rose and her brother to England on a kinder transport to keep them safe from the oncoming war. The children are devastated to be sent off to different households in England.  They are told that it will only be for six months but of course the horrendous war lasts much longer.

The Zimmer family possess a valuable painting by Chaim Soutere of a bellhop, which the mother has a particular love of. After the war when Rose is trying to deal with the grievous losses she has endured, she fixates on trying to find the painting and other family belongings that were lost or stolen by the Nazis.

The missing painting finds its way to the Goldstein family in America. However, the painting is subsequently stolen during a party thrown by teenager Lizzie.  Lizzie carries the guilt of that theft and likewise is searching for the painting.  The loss and search for this painting forge a friendship between Lizzie and Rose and reveal painful family secrets.

This is a haunting and unforgettable story of loss, love and forgiveness and the “fortunate ones” who survived the war but bear the scars. Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.