A hefty tableau of beautifully gnashed teeth.

This ambitious graphic novel traces the chaotic, bloody early history of the modern Jewish state in Palestine, focusing on a fractious family living in the hotly contested city of Jerusalem.

In April 1945, the Halabys live in the motley Machane Yehuda neighborhood of British Jerusalem. After inheriting property from his late father, kind, soft-spoken patriarch Izak now lives in a modest apartment with no-nonsense Jewish-Egyptian wife Emily and their four sons and lone daughter (and, eventually, a down-on-their luck family Izak takes pity on, much to Emily’s chagrin). Idealistic, artistic Avraham joins the Communist Party, under the leadership of noble Elias Habash, urging class solidarity between Jew and Arab alike. With Avraham returned from serving overseas with the Jewish brigade of the British army, dutiful David now enlists, devastating young Motti. Defiant Ezra delivers telegrams—and anti-British propaganda, journeying deeper into violent insurgency. Fearless, intelligent scamp Motti is best friends and classmates with cousin Jonathan, whose wealthy father, Yakov, deeply resents Motti’s father—his own brother. Bashful Devorah struggles with self-esteem as the world around her falls apart, though Jonathan insists she’s the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood. Through perils large and small—military occupation, suppression of Jewish identity, labor protests, internecine disputes, theater productions, open warfare—the family and city spiral into darkness, drenched in blood, as kindness and honor fail to overcome perceived slights. This dense work of nearly 400 pages offers almost no narration, save the opening six pages (map, condensed textual histories, illustrated family tree) that serve as a legend to be flipped back to time and again as the complex tale whirls mercilessly toward an intercut montage worthy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather. Filmmaker and author Yakin (Marathon, 2012, etc.) doesn’t offer an easy read—the story is unapologetically larger than its pages—or any easy answers, which is bittersweetly appropriate given the subject matter. Bertozzi’s (Lewis & Clark, 2011, etc.) clean lines and deceptively cartoonish art deftly capture everything, from subtle emotion to human dismemberment.

A hefty tableau of beautifully gnashed teeth.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59643-575-9

Page Count: 402

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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