I have spent the last 20 years trying my best to get involved in a book club and I have finally found the type I could handle. A virtual one. Yes, I know, I have a strange knack of finding almost everything I need in the basement. Kind of scary, but hey, it works for me.
The Silicon Valley Moms Blog was given the opportunity to review Diana Spechler’s new novel, Who by Fire. I jumped at the chance to read this and share my thoughts with the group. Other reviews will be linked at the bottom of this post as well as the lead in post on our group blog. The author will be available there for comments throughout the day, making this quite intriguing for me to participate in.
This is an interesting story about the power of family and how circumstance and human frailty can compromise these bonds. Being one who hates when a book review gives away the entire story – because then why bother – I will be brief in my description.
The story opens with the disappearance of the youngest of three children. It is set in a suburban community not unlike my own. The family is Jewish, and similar to my own family, more traditional than truly religious. The loss of their young daughter causes irreparable damage to this family. The parents split and the remaining siblings take very different paths. The son turns to Orthodox Judaism and flees to Israel, the daughter turns to a life of unfulfilling sexual encounters, often with strangers.
You are thinking, so much for not giving too many details? Sorry, you need these to follow my ‘review’. This is not a traditional book review filled with likes and dislikes or analysis of writing style. I did enjoy the book, found it a quick read and would recommend it for that reason. However it is the lesson from this story that stuck with me and kept me thinking long after I put the book down.
This book was about motherhood and the lengths to which we will go to save our children and preserve a sense of family unity, sometimes at the risk of destroying the individuals and their right to choose their own paths. As mothers, we claim to want to see our children lead happy and fulfilling lives. But what happens when the path they choose is not the one we sought for them? Do we support their life decisions, or do we push them away with the very acts that we think will draw them closer?
The mother in this story is torn by her son’s decision to pursue a more religious path than she has taken. She goes so far as to consider his choice cult-like. It aggravated me to think of how this tortured her and led her to manipulate her kids. I have known people who have chosen to live more religious lives than their parents. Although it is hard on their families they work it out and respect their lifestyle.
The hardest thing for a parent to do is to hold their tongue and only give advice when it is asked for. We live in a generation of helicopter parenting and over-involvement that sometimes pushes our families away instead of drawing them closer.
So far I have been fortunate to have children who have level heads and make well informed solid choices. But they are on the cusp of their adulthood. The choices get harder from here on. My only hope is that I will always be able to support them no matter who they are and where life leads them.
If you would like to read more reviews of this book you can find them below. Please be warned that these are more traditional reviews and give full details of the story.
Florinda at The 3 Rs blog
Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog
Julie at Booking Mama
Marie at Boston Bibliophile
Gayle Weiswasser at Everyday I Write the Book Blog
Meghan at Meghan’s Mindless Muttering
Sarah at Genesis Moments
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