Girl in rebellion against her conventional Jewish parents; the difference here being--and it's a fierce, generally engaging...

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MARA

Girl in rebellion against her conventional Jewish parents; the difference here being--and it's a fierce, generally engaging difference--that these parents happen to be very Jewish. Daddy's a powerful rabbi who owns a string of New York nursing homes, and just as the Medicaid is hitting the fan in his geriatric empire, daughter Mara ups and marries the Egyptian-Jewish hippie (named Sudah) that she met in Israel. Keeping the grand jury away with one hand and his flaky new son-in-law with the other is too much even for the lordly Rabbi Dr. Leon Leib; Sudah and Mara take up residence in one of the nursing homes, foment trouble among the oldsters, are eventually forced to leave, and after a stint in the Leib apartment, are off to SoHo, loft-living, and a bucketful of bohemianism. Reich can be very funny: the nursing-home residents are organized to take part in a free-the-Russian Jews protest outside the Soviet Mission, which the Russians attempt to break-up, shaman-style, by walking a large empty coffin out the door. As a chronicle of just how much aggravation Mara can give her parents, the novel has a squealy energy that's finally not a little callow, not a little mean; Reich has yet to find much sympathy for her characters, or much respect. But that may come. Meanwhile, what she lacks in wisdom is made up for with a rude gaiety: Chaim Potok this isn't. Rabbi's children lay tfillin but also smoke pot; they eat lardy French fries; they do things in the mikvah, the ritual bath house, that the Talmud never mentioned. Reich's first hundred pages sizzle with high spirits and the sound of razzberries; the rest mostly noodles, hippie life not being the most compelling subject matter. But her fearlessness is fresh, the voice is authentically comic, and with a little shaping and aging, Reich promises to be very good indeed.

Pub Date: July 17, 1978

ISBN: 0815606591

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1978