A sympathetic tale of love, loss and loneliness highlighting a largely underrepresented community.



A latticework of personal tragedies and cultural history underpins Shiri-Horowitz’s debut novel about immigrant lives in Israel, translated from the Hebrew by Shira Atik.

Violet and Farida Twaina, the youngest daughters of a Jewish Iraqi family, find their lives upended during “The Exodus” in the 1940s, when Jews fled the country to escape retaliation during the creation of Israel. Abandoning a sprawling house in Baghdad, the family arrives as refugees at an Israeli transit camp and then scatters to far-flung kibbutzim. Violet and Farida remain inseparable through this time of hardship, and subsequently through marriage and the births of their children. Their lives slowly return to normalcy, but other sorrows await—the death of their beloved former playmate, Eddie; early widowhood and its attendant loneliness for Farida; and an untimely diagnosis of terminal cancer for Violet. In her final months, Violet writes a diary for her children, Noa and Guy, to ensure the family’s past stays alive. The journal forms one part of the triptych of shifting points of view that illuminate this generational saga. Farida and Noa, meanwhile, offer insight into the family’s present and future. If political betrayals scarred the older generation, Noa grapples with betrayals of a more personal nature. Her emotional journey offers a counterpoint to the family’s earlier journey from persecution. Despite its somber narrative arc, the novel is leavened with passion (above all else, for food, which is almost a fourth protagonist). The Twaina sisters’ zest for life, despite setbacks, is seen in the dying Violet’s rich evocation of the culture of Iraqi Jews and in matronly Farida’s spirited foray to a beauty salon to have her hair cut, colored and styled. Such moments offset occasionally stodgy prose and some heavy-handed exposition. These are minor flaws, however, in a novel that brims with love for a community that no longer exists, and for the women who ensure that this lost community will not be forgotten.

A sympathetic tale of love, loss and loneliness highlighting a largely underrepresented community.

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615460796

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Horowitz

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.


From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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