SAVING GRACE by Barbara Rogan


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 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.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-24963-X
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991


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