Memories from Cherry Harvest

Amy Wachspress, Author
Amy Wachspress. Soft Skull, $15.95 trade paper (356p) ISBN 978-1-59376-440-1
Open Ebook - 401 pages - 978-1-59376-489-0
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Wachspress’s disappointing debut is a busy family chronicle of four generations of Jewish women, each standing as a marker of the period of history in which she lived. In the early 20th century, Rivka and Ruth’s family escapes Russia for Palestine, where they befriend Miriam, who becomes like a third sister to them. Rivka is arrested for Communist activities and escapes to France (where she is soon joined by Miriam), and Ruth heads to America. During WWII, all three women are involved in the struggle while simultaneously trying to build their lives and families. The story continues with Ruth’s daughter Rina, who follows a bohemian path, then Rina’s daughter Miriam, who commits herself to the plight of Salvadoran refugees and eventually has a daughter of her own. Each woman’s life is recounted in exhaustive but emotionless detail, leading to heavy-handed summary dialogue like, “Despite our losses, we have been fortunate.” An underdeveloped story line about reincarnation attempts to tie the women together more tightly, but is never clear enough to resonate. Though ambitious, the novel falters under its own weight. (July)
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