Strangers in the Land of Egypt

Stephen March, Author . Permanent $28 (248p) ISBN 978-1-57962-185-8

North Carolina writer March (Catbird ) has written an accomplished, intricate coming-of-age tale set in a small Southern city where Jesse, the 16-year-old narrator, is always getting into violent scrapes. Abandoned by his mother, his father brain-damaged and institutionalized after a brutal mugging, he's living with and sorely testing his Uncle G.T., a hardworking roofer, when he's arrested for vandalizing a synagogue. Sentenced to a two-year probation and community service assisting Mendal Ebban, an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor, Jesse is an angry young man. Between run-ins with the city police, Jesse reads religious texts to entertain the spiritual Mr. Ebban and while the old man's preaching can sometimes feel excessive and melodramatic, the two form a friendship, united by their mutual loss. Jesse's thirst to avenge his father conflicts with Mr. Ebban's teachings, while the plot thickens among eccentric and entertaining secondary characters. A likable protagonist, Jesse comes across as a sensitive thinker under his rough upbringing in this well-plotted, well-written solid read. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-1-57962-187-2
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