A family is pulled to Jewish mysticism—and away from each other—in this expansive saga about faith, love, and loss.
Samuel’s debut is divided into four sections. The first three, with different narrators, recount distinct eras in the Meyers' history. We meet Lev at age 11, a few years after the sudden death of his mother, a religious Jewish woman. Lev is acutely attuned to the emotions of others, especially of his sister and father. He begins exploring religion, building a friendship with his delusional, religious neighbor. The second section picks up the thread years later, gathering momentum through the eyes of his father, David. A religious studies professor, David has shunned religion as anything but an objective, academic study for years. After suffering a health scare, however, he's drawn to the powerful ideas of cabala. Samara’s section starts after another family loss. She's a college student living away from home. Though emotionally estranged from her father, she finds the same coping mechanism he had, embarking on a cabalistic mystical pursuit. The fragmented style is unified in the final section through an omniscient narrator, providing a full sense of the Meyerses and their neighborhood. The minor characters, ever present in the background, shine as their stories conclude powerfully. Often, mysteries that loom large for one narrator are answered logically by another. This level of coincidence could be deemed implausible by some readers, yet it fits in with the overarching theme of faith.
A tale about the stories we let ourselves believe.