Who by Fire

Diana Spechler, Author . Harper Perennial $14.95 (343p) ISBN 978-0-06-157293-7

In her affecting debut, Spechler raises the question of whether, in rescuing others, we risk ruining ourselves. Thirteen years after the abduction of youngest child Alena at the age of six, the remaining members of the Kellerman family are still deeply damaged by their shared loss. The irresponsible oldest daughter, Bits, seeks out random sexual encounters with near strangers to fill the voids in her life. Son Ash, meanwhile, dabbles in a variety of compulsive behaviors before settling on Orthodox Judaism, cutting himself off from the rest of the family and moving to Jerusalem. The mother, Ellie, enlists the help of a charismatic stranger to help save Ash from what she views as a cult, and when Alena's remains are discovered, Bits determines to bring Ash home for their sister's long-overdue memorial service. Told in alternating chapters by Bits, Ellie and Ash, the narrative is notable in large part for how little these family members actually interact with one another despite the drama that confronts them all. Though the ending is overly tidy, Spechler's debut raises provocative questions about religion, violence and the resilience of families and individuals. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 07/14/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 368 pages - 978-0-06-170599-1
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-198234-7
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-170595-3
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-06-170610-3
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