One very hot summer in an Israeli city, two lonely people discover the life-changing power of a lie.
“In the ice cream parlor next door, the girl went behind the glass counter and began handing spoons of ice cream to those who wanted to taste, knowing that summer vacation was about to end and no one had yet tasted her, the only girl in her class still a virgin, and next summer when the fields yellowed, she would be wearing a soldier’s army green.” Nofar’s name means “water lily” but she thinks of herself as “zit face.” Her friends have dropped her, her younger sister is more beautiful and popular, and when a rude customer cruelly insults her, she loses it entirely. She rushes from the store screaming, the customer follows her, a crowd forms, the cops arrive—and a charge of attempted rape of a minor is made. Only an unhappy boy watching from his apartment knows it didn’t happen. As his attempt to blackmail Nofar turns into her first romance, she’s also becoming a national celebrity, lauded for her bravery and supplied with free designer outfits for TV appearances. Gundar-Goshen (Waking Lions, 2017) pauses Nofar’s story to introduce Raymonde, a resident of a senior citizens’ center who assumes her dead best friend’s identity so she can take a trip the other woman was about to go on. She didn’t realize this would entail becoming a speaker about her (nonexistent) experiences surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Like Nofar, Raymonde’s lie brings her magical good fortune. Ah, if it were only that simple. The author unfurls her ironic fable—simultaneously timeless and contemporary—from a God’s-eye view, with captivating authority and in lush prose. “His heart had pounded furiously all night, not even letting up at dawn, as if a new branch of a twenty-four hour supermarket had opened in its chambers.”
A psychological page-turner, rich in setting, character, and wisdom.