Some early praise from the Forward for Am I a Jew?. I think the writer, Josh Rolnick, was fair and perhaps even liked the book–which I’ll take, even if he does describe me as “earnest”. Reviews are a nervous-making business for the author of a first book, so I’m happily knocking on wood as I share the review.
Here’s my favorite bit:
In a way, all of Ross’s travels and seeking lead to a confrontation with his mother that exists at the book’s emotional core. In a powerfully written scene, he finally puts all of his questions to his mother, point blank. Her answers are stunning, uncomfortable and sad. They provide an honest portrait of Jewish fears (“I did not want my kids to be lampshades”) and assumptions (“everybody hates the Jews”) that we ignore at our peril. And they remind us that our own tussles with and choices about Judaism are perhaps more heavily influenced by our parents than we might like to admit. At one point, Ross asks his mother — given that his book is about her lie — why she told all her friends he was writing it. “Because I’m proud of you,” she says. And, suddenly, just as we were about to write her off, just as we were ready to label her eccentric or cowardly or odd, there she is — the Jewish mother we all recognize.