A window into the everyday life and rituals of a large Orthodox Jewish family in pre–World War II Poland.
Two parents and nine children of various ages make up the lively Rabinovitch family. Headed by Papa Rabinovitch, a rabbi, the family is large enough to need two side-by-side apartments, making them the titular “family with two front doors.” They are religiously observant, and readers get close-up views of preparations for the Sabbath and an Orthodox Jewish wedding as well as insights into class and gender roles of the era. Based on the childhood experiences of the author’s grandmother (who is the character of 10-year-old Nomi, who, per the author’s note, is one of the few to later survive the Holocaust), the centerpiece of the story is the oldest sister’s marriage at 15 to a young man whom she does not meet until her wedding day, when she rapidly transforms from teen to woman. Told in a third person that is sometimes omniscient and sometimes filtered through Nomi’s perspective, the tale is nicely peppered with colloquial Yiddish phrases of the era; it’s reminiscent of but has less emotional depth than the iconic Fiddler on the Roof story and the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sidney Taylor. In its slice-of-life approach, it prioritizes detail over drama.
Heartwarming, painstaking detail and characterization, if also a bit light on plot. (Glossary) (Historical fiction. 8-12)