rabb_amongtheliving

Among The Living

By: Jonathan Rabb

Click to purchase…http://amzn.to/2e2sCHd

A fresh, new, and unique addition to the WWII fiction genre! On the outside, this book is a heartbreaking tale of a concentration camp survivor’s journey returning to the world after the horrors he faced at the hands of the Nazis. But this story has so much more to it! Not only does the book follow Yitzhak Goldah along the way, it also dives into America’s problems with racism against African Americans during this time period as well as issues with American Jews working with the Unions. Yitzhak Goldah, renamed Ike Goldah by his American family (in order to fit in better they say), is trying to adjust to the normal world which he has not been a part of in many years. He has survivor’s guilt that he is trying to rise above all the while he is being presented to his family’s friends like a pet or trained performer. Ike meets and falls in love with a beautiful widow named Eva which of course causes a stir among the community. He and Eva are two outcasts and while both are Jewish, Eva’s “Jews” are of a different sort according the Ike’s cousin Pearl. While this is all taking place, Pearl’s husband Abe Jesler is facing financial and business difficulties because of crooked union workers at the loading docks where he receives imported women’s shoes for his store. The stories of the African American store clerks Calvin and Raymond plus Pearl’s live in housekeeper Mary Royal mirror what Ike has seen and been through in his home country. These people have faced hardships that are different, but one in the same and the level of respect they have for each is much higher than the respect others have for them. They have a bond that remains unsaid in so many words, but is a silent understanding. I don’t want to add any spoilers here, but a complication occurs with Ike and Eva that is quite challenging. It is a battle of good conscious versus the will to find their own happiness and move forward. This is a fantastic book! Please go out and read it. You will really enjoy it. The writing here is so beautiful and if you check out my blog page, you can read all of the quotes I highlighted.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this book.

Synopsis:

A moving novel about a Holocaust survivor’s unconventional journey back to a new normal in 1940s Savannah, Georgia

In late summer 1947, thirty-one-year-old Yitzhak Goldah, a camp survivor, arrives in Savannah to live with his only remaining relatives. They are Abe and Pearl Jesler, older, childless, and an integral part of the thriving Jewish community that has been in Georgia since the founding of the colony. There, Yitzhak discovers a fractured world, where Reform and Conservative Jews live separate lives–distinctions, to him, that are meaningless given what he has been through. He further complicates things when, much to the Jeslers’ dismay, he falls in love with Eva, a young widow within the Reform community. When a woman from Yitzhak’s past suddenly appears–one who is even more shattered by the war than he is–Yitzhak must choose between a dark and tortured familiarity and the promise of a bright new life.

Set amid the backdrop of America’s postwar south, Among the Living grapples with questions of identity and belonging, and steps beyond the Jewish experience as it situates Yitzhak’s story within the last gasp of the Jim Crow era. That he begins to find echoes of his recent past in the lives of the black family who work for the Jeslers–an affinity he does not share with the Jeslers themselves–both surprises and convinces Yitzhak that his choices are not as clear-cut as he might think.

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