THE BROKEN AND THE WHOLE by Charles S. Sherman
Kirkus Star


Discovering Joy After Heartbreak
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A meaningful portrayal of how tragedy affected and transformed one family and especially one religious leader.

Sherman, a rabbi in upstate New York, points to a single day in March 1986 as the point at which his family’s life was forever altered. His son, Eyal, was found to have a lesion in the brainstem. Given no hope for recovery without aggressive treatment, doctors attempted an ambitious surgery, which kept Eyal alive but left him a quadriplegic. It was the beginning of three decades of traumatic health issues, lengthy hospital stays, and daily, mundane care needs stretching around the clock. Sherman does not set out merely to tell his son’s story, or even that of him and his family. Instead, he emphasizes how this experience has transformed them, how it has shaped him as a man of faith and how it has thoroughly changed how he understands other people. Though Sherman describes many situations filled with heartbreaking pain, fear and even monotony, his true focus is on community. He examines the relationships within his family and how his son’s very life is a precious gift. He also explores his congregation, looking at how they have helped each other (and at times stumbled) and how his ministry to others has grown deeper through difficult experiences. Lastly, Sherman focuses on the larger community—e.g., total strangers who treated them with extraordinary kindness or those of other religions and walks of life with whom he has been able to bond. Throughout, Sherman ties his narrative to his faith, exploring how everything he has experienced, from anger to joy, is mirrored in Scripture. “When I heard Eyal’s terrible prognosis, my life was shattered,” he writes. “But eventually, as Moses did, I got up and climbed the mountain again.”

Deeply moving, extraordinarily thought-provoking and entirely humane.

Pub Date: March 11th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5616-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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