ALAN AND NAOMI by Myron Levoy


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Oy, Gott, with a yenta momma making demands, a distraught neighbor upstairs needing help, and best friend Shaun showing uneven interest, Alan Silverman's got his hands full--a dilemma apparently resolved on all fronts until a wrenching, unexpected end. It's 1944 in Queens, and refugee Naomi, who saw her Resistance father beaten to death by Nazis, is a jittery twelve-year-old obsessively shredding paper, whom Alan (also twelve) is asked to befriend. ""Not me. She's a girl; and she's crazy; and I won't,"" he insists. But he does, and the strength he derives from restoring her balance steadily increases. Levoy competently alternates their scenes together and her small breakthroughs with Alan's schoolboy concerns--stickball, pranks, jibes from fisty Joe Condello. He supplies him with an indealistic father, then oppresses him with Naomi's psychiatrist (long-distance directions) and a trio of mothers (his, hers, a neighbor) who sigh in Yiddish and peddle chozzerai. Enough already, but Levoy moves them beyond the period of adjustment to a harsh conclusion. Taunted once more, Alan fights back and wins--a big personal victory; but Naomi, a witness, relives her earlier trauma, withdraws again, and is institutionalized--sending Alan into a pained outburst which closes the book. No happily-ever-after here, and the shaded relationships are a plus for mature readers; but the dialect-and-hysteria trio is overdone, the heartstrings tugged a bit too much.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1977
ISBN: 0595474241
Publisher: Harper & Row