MIRIAM THE MEDIUM by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro


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A gently amusing debut for the Reformed set follows the financial vicissitudes of a psychic in Great Neck, Long Island, struggling to make her calling respectable among the suburban well-heeled.

Miriam Kaminsky, married to adoring Queens pharmacist Rory, was instructed by her Russian babushka grandmother, from whom she inherited her psychic gift, never to sell it for gelt. Yet Rory’s business is floundering (he’s being swindled by an employee he won’t fire) and Miriam’s is flush—if only she’d expand her phone readings into a hot new business and appear on TV. The problem is teenaged daughter Cara, a very serious high-school senior who’d had her cap set on Cornell until she fell for the local rich greaser, Lance Stark, who rides a motorcycle and sports a shaved head. Miriam would rather remain anonymous, in order to shield Cara from the social opprobrium that accompanies psychics’ work (Cara herself has been disapproving of her mother’s psychic gift ever since she recognized, as a young girl, that she didn’t inherit it). There isn’t much we can’t predict here, but Miriam is so winningly philanthropic, without an axe to grind or argument to prove, with her unmanageable red hair and dowdy wardrobe, that she proves refreshingly disarming. She can recognize sadness or loneliness by a person’s blue aura, and she regularly summons the spirits of her “healer,” Bubbie, who counsels her when she’s in need or can’t make an essential connection with another person. The tertiary characters, in the form of Miriam’s phone customers—like Vince the mobster—provide corny if always intriguing relief from the action, especially in light of the author’s actual work as a psychic. What succeeds perhaps best in this light-spirited tale about finding one’s way and sticking to it is the relationship between Rory—tall, devoted, and workaholic—and Miriam as they weather marital bitterness and suspicion, but still have sex.

With a title like this, you get your money’s worth.

Pub Date: May 11th, 2004
ISBN: 0-7432-4478-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2004


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