cover image Open Doors

Open Doors

Gloria Goldreich, . . Mira, $13.95 (487pp) ISBN 978-0-7783-2543-7

Goldreich’s latest wide-ranging novel, rooted in suburban New York, skillfully delineates contemporary and conservative Jewish life, but with a less-than-compelling story. Goldreich’s protagonist, ceramic artist Elaine Gordon, is neither warm nor particularly sympathetic. Putting her husband first and art second, she’s effectively shut out her four children. But after her husband dies, those grown children, each of whom has a successful life outside New York City, convene and convince Elaine to visit, hoping she’ll choose to live near one of them. First stop is Sandy (now Sarah) in Jerusalem, then Peter in California, both of whom have children Elaine gets to bond with. Next, she travels to Russia with Lisa, an unmarried professional who wants to adopt a child. Finally, she arrives in New Mexico where her gay son, Denis, lives with his partner; Elaine’s always been uncomfortable with Denis’s homosexuality, and Goldreich (Leah’s Journey ) doesn’t let us forget it. Unfortunately, Elaine’s sudden emotional turnarounds never ring true, making last-act reconciliations feel like too little too late. (Nov.)