A noisy domestic drama—set in the environs of New York City and Israel—in which a family is torn apart by the father's political ruin. Again, as in the author's Cafe Nevo (1987) and Changing States (1981), Israel offers a challenge and a vision that, here, will unlock a heart and provide a future. The household headed by Jonathan Fleishman, much admired Democratic Party leader with a past of civil-rights activism, is not a happy one. Wife Lily, remote but always gently supportive, is as helpless as Jonathan in the face of the rage of 18-year-old Grace, always ``a fighter and survivor,'' always her father's favorite. Like grandmother Clara, son Paul is an ``uncompromising materialist,'' but, unlike Clara, Paul has no commitment to family (Paul has a few stupid/nasty lines, then splits for good). Now Jonathan—given the shoulder by daughter Grace because, in spite of all his noble sentiments, he'd sold their home in a newly black neighborhood—is in deep trouble. Old friends have squealed, the media is rumbling, and the law is about to accuse him of extortion and influence-peddling—things that ``everybody does.'' Reporter Barnaby sleeps with Grace, and elicits a family secret. Thumbscrews, meanwhile, are being twisted on Jonathan's reputation; Lily is dying of a brain tumor; and then Grace, sent to Israel to stay at a kibbutz with Aunt Tamar and her adopted son Micha, is lost in a Judean desert. The Book of Job, not surprisingly, comes to mind. Finally, Jonathan delivers a high-decibel confession to a jury, sacrificially inviting the clink; Lily dies; and Grace has her angst cured by Israel, where there's a ``saving attachment to place.'' There's also Micha—strong, brave, with a cleft in his chin, etc. An earnest novel, but simplistic in characterization. One cannot believe in these theatric people, who seem to have only one stance and one dimension.
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