Summer Reading Recommendations
By Arlene Ratzabi, Librarian, Hendel Family Library
Check out these summer reads, available from the Hendel Family Library:
- Kantika by Elizabeth Graver
A kaleidoscopic portrait of one family’s displacement across four countries, Kantika—“song” in Ladino—follows the joys and losses of Rebecca Cohen, feisty daughter of the Sephardic elite of early 20th-century Istanbul.
- This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
A novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again; parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts; children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.
- The Postcard by Ann Berest
A vivid portrait of twentieth-century Parisian intellectual and artistic life, an enthralling investigation into family secrets, and poignant tale of a Jewish family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling.
- The Marriage Box by Corie Adjami
Casey Cohen, a Middle Eastern Jew, is a sixteen-year-old in New Orleans in the 1970s when she starts hanging out with the wrong crowd. Then she gets in trouble and her parents turn her whole world upside down by deciding to return to their roots, the Orthodox Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn.
- The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land: Stories by Omer Friedlander
These gorgeously immersive and imaginative stories take you to the narrow limestone alleyways of Jerusalem, the desolate beauty of the Negev Desert, and the sprawling orange groves of Jaffa, with characters that spring to vivid life. They are stories that render the intimate lives of people striving for connection. They are fairy tales turned on their head by the stakes of real life, where moments of fragile intimacy mix with comedy and notes of the absurd.
- 100 Saturdays: Stella Levi and the Search for a Lost World by Michael Frank
The remarkable story of ninety-nine-year-old Stella Levi, whose conversations with the writer Michael Frank over the course of six years bring to life the vibrant world of Jewish Rhodes, the deportation to Auschwitz that extinguished ninety percent of her community, and the resilience and wisdom of the woman who lived to tell the tale.
- The House is on Fire by Rachel Beanland
From the author of Florence Adler Swims Forever, a riveting reimagining of one of early America’s deadliest tragedies, the Richmond Theater Fire of 1811, told from the perspectives of four characters whose lives are irrevocably altered in the aftermath of the inferno.
- Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Winner of the Pultizer Prize, the novel is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
- The Red Balcony by Jonathan Wilson
Based on actual events, it’s 1933, and Ivor Castle, Oxford-educated and Jewish, arrives in Palestine to take up a position as assistant to the defense counsel in the trial of the two men accused of murdering Haim Arlosoroff, a leader of the Jewish community in Palestine whose efforts to get Jews out of Hitler’s Germany and into Palestine may have been controversial enough to get him killed. As Ivor learns the hard way about the violence simmering just beneath the surface of British colonial rule, the book masterfully portrays the sun-drenched landscape and the subtleties of the warring agendas among the Jews, Arabs, and British.
- The Woman Beyond the Sea by Sarit Yishai-Levi
An immersive historical tale spanning the life stories of three women, The Woman Beyond the Sea traces the paths of a daughter, mother, and grandmother who lead entirely separate lives, until finally their stories and their hearts are joined together. Eliya thinks that she’s finally found true love and passion with her charismatic and demanding husband, an aspiring novelist—until he ends their relationship in a Paris café, spurring her suicide attempt. Seeking to heal herself, Eliya is compelled to piece together the jagged shards of her life and history. Eliya’s heart-wrenching journey leads her to a profound and unexpected love, renewed family ties, and a reconciliation with her orphaned mother, Lily. Together, the two women embark on a quest to discover the truth about themselves and Lily’s own origins…and the unknown woman who set their stories in motion one Christmas Eve.
- The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men—men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.