Three women, each feeling hopelessly bound by a painful past, touch one anothers' lives in this wise, perceptive first novel. Leaving behind a troubled relationship with her mother in America, young Maya enrolls at Hebrew University in tense Jerusalem shortly after the Gulf War. There she spends time with her older cousin Tami, an Israeli whose distressed relationships with her husband and grown son have followed a difficult girlhood with an emotionally distant mother of her own. As Maya tells the story of her love affair with an abusive Israeli veteran haunted by memories of his tour of duty on the West Bank, Kadish interpolates lyrical, psalmlike passages spoken by the inner voice of Shifra, an aged recluse and concentration camp survivor living in the apartment below Maya's. Shifra comes to think of the American girl as a sort of Messiah who will save her from the tormenting memories of her tragic past--an apotheosis made all the more ironic by the glowing letters home that Maya writes to cover up the violent, complex relationship in which she is trapped. In the end, redemption for these characters lies in having the courage to exit the ""sealed rooms"" of their fears and memories. Only Shifra falls beneath the burden of her past, but not before her brief, intense visits with Maya ensure that her strong voice survives in the girl. Kadish draws her characters with fine compassion, psychological penetration and attention to detail. Editor, Faith Sale; agent, Gail Hochman; first serial to Bomb. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998 Release date: 10/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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