LESSONS FROM LIFE by Jeff Rosenfeld

LESSONS FROM LIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An unlikely friendship is kindled when a young disabled man meets a Holocaust survivor.

In this short novel, Rosenfeld weaves together the tragic, yet inspiring stories of two unlikely friends. Jonathan, 18, is a car-accident survivor and working to regain strength in his legs. Sarah, a Holocaust survivor with many emotional scars, searches for ways to live with a past that continually haunts her. When the two meet in a fitness-center Jacuzzi after swimming for rehabilitation, each opens up to reveal a tragic story of overcoming emotional and physical pain. Rosenfeld’s novel moves quickly. The author advances the narrative and maintains momentum with the back-and-forth dialogue between the two characters. While the age difference between Jonathan and Sara renders their relationship platonic, this age gap allows a distance that collapses all artifice. What the reader will find is a true sense of human connection between these characters—one that defies sex, gender and self-consciousness. At times, the reader may long for a more present-tense world. Much of the novel is occupied by back story, and the characters’ present-time interactions are brief and in service to the delivery of past stories. Similarly, Jonathan and Sarah are often largely defined by their disabilities and past abuse, leaving little to present them as rounded characters except for their struggles and delicate treatment of one another. However, the author satisfyingly explores their relationship while also addressing the painful, and somewhat irreversible, nature of both their conditions.

A powerful story, told through conversation, that reveals the importance of a genuine and generous connection.

Page count: 146pp
Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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