Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review: From a Sealed Room

This book was so very dull- nearly 400 pages of small print of people whining and having FEELINGS. The book focuses on three women living in Jerusalem: Tami- an unhappy, emotionally unavailable housewife, Maya, her American niece, and Shifra, an elderly Holocaust survivor. Everyone has issues. Tami's relationship with her son is deteriorating. Shifra has never really found her place in Jerusalem. Maya is concurrently running away from and trying repair her poor relationship with her mother. There's not very very much plot in this book. Maya travels from New York to study abroad in the hopes of finally proving her worth to her mother. She falls in mad, youthful love with Gil, a miserable, abusive, self-important artist. Maya drifts away from her friends and university and gets wrapped up in Gil's wants and needs. Shifra suffers from dementia and lives downstairs from Gil and Maya. She begins to hallucinate and think that Maya has arrived to bring her redemption. Meanwhile, Maya also meets her long-lost Israeli family members, including Tami. Honestly, that's about it. The story has little resolution, and there's not enough plot to sustain more than 300 pages. What the book does do well is describe Israel- it's environment and problems. The reader can really feel the sun, the grit, the sand of the Israeli desert. Kadish also illustrates the divergent desires of fundamentalists and moderates. Ultimately, while Kadish can write beautiful prose, there's too many tangents and not enough story here.

Rachel Kadish, From a Sealed Room (Berkley Trade, 2000) ISBN: 042517641X 

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