THE BRONFMAN HAGGADAH

Imagine a Passover Seder with participants clutching tablets and listening to the Haggadah being read aloud by soothing male and female voices.

Originally published in 2012, the print version of this very progressive Haggadah has been transformed into a fairly static app with a few animated features. Six short videos featuring the Jewish philanthropist/author and his wife, the illustrator, have been created, but they do little to transform this attractive book into an exciting app. Though there is a full, multivoiced narration, few of the watercolor paintings have been animated. The tiny basket holding Moses travels through the Nile’s waters, and some candle flames flicker, but there are no real interactive features. The illustrator incorporates design elements from various cultures into her nonrepresentational paintings, but perhaps her most original addition is a map showing several possible routes for the Exodus. A traditional rendition of the English version of “Chad Gadya” is sung aloud, and there is an adapted version of “Dayenu,” with English words centering on the modern creation of Israel. Like many in non-Orthodox families today, the author has selected parts of the traditional telling and added some original touches. He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass and includes a poem about matzo by Marge Piercy. Bronfman’s relation of the story of Moses includes the handing down of the Ten Commandments and a description of the holiday of Shavuot (not usually found in the traditional text). In line with the author’s personal beliefs, he states that “[i]n this Haggadah, ‘God’ is understood as ‘energy’—an energy that is both transcendent (beyond us) and immanent (within us).” Little Hebrew is used, and the traditional prayers are mentioned but not printed, even in English. Miriam’s cup, a feminist tradition, is included, and the custom of inviting the prophet Elijah has been inserted closer to the beginning of the Seder than is traditional. There are a few unfortunate typos that should be corrected in an update. Families who are interested in a contemporary, inclusive, nontraditional approach to the holiday may find this version useful for sharing with older children before the holiday (and techies may actually use it at the holiday feast itself). (glossary)          

 

Pub Date: March 9, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bronfman Associates

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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