cover image History of Us

History of Us

Stacey Agdern. Tule, $3.99 e-book (182p) ASIN B08YV7FTWN

Agdern highlights Long Island’s Jewish community in her second Friendships and Festivals romance (after Miracles and Menorahs), but the loving care taken with the depictions of Jewish food and culture doesn’t extend to the novel’s other elements, leaving characters underdeveloped and plot threads dangling. Anna Cohen, the assistant curator at the Manhattan Museum of Jewish History, is spending her summer on Long Island to build an exhibit on the history of the Horowitz-Margaretens, an exceedingly affluent local family. The project brings her back into close contact with her ex, Jacob Horowitz-Margareten, an “ethical billionaire” who heads a charitable foundation grounded in Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world. As Anna works in Jacob’s family’s archive, the pair must rebuild trust and move past old hurt. Though they discuss their history at length, readers won’t come away with a clear understanding of what led to their initial breakup. Also vague are the descriptions of the setting and even what the characters look like. Friends and family show up to say supportive words, and they all eat a lot of deliciously described food, but though the cultural specificity is commendable, it can also feel heavy-handed. Readers will struggle to invest in this second-chance love story. [em]Agent: Lynnette Novak, the Seymour Agency. (June) [/em]