A Brief Chap­ter in My Impos­si­ble Life

Dana Rein­hardt
  • Review
By – July 9, 2012

Simone has always known she was adopt­ed, but has sup­pressed any curios­i­ty about her past. How­ev­er, when her birth moth­er Riv­ka devel­ops can­cer, she invites Simone to get in touch, to learn about her her­itage before it is too late. Simone and Riv­ka devel­op a strong rela­tion­ship even as Riv­ka is dying. An inter­est­ing twist to the sto­ry is that Simone has been raised as a gen­tile athe­ist while Riv­ka is a lib­er­al Jew with a Hasidic back­ground. While Simone makes an effort to learn about the rit­u­als that enrich Rivka’s life, the ques­tion of her own reli­gious iden­ti­ty remains open-end­ed. Rivka’s Hasidic fam­i­ly remains dis­tant and unre­cep­tive to Simone. 

The Jew­ish angle” of the sto­ry is inter­est­ing, but the main focus is on Simone’s rela­tion­ships and grow­ing matu­ri­ty. The author has even made it easy on her pro­tag­o­nist by giv­ing her a neu­tral non-believ­ing fam­i­ly rather than one whose beliefs would present con­flicts with Judaism. Because the Jew­ish aspect of the sto­ry is not essen­tial to the plot, the book may be con­sid­ered an addi­tion­al pur­chase for Jew­ish libraries. How­ev­er, this is a well-writ­ten and emo­tion­al­ly charged nov­el that would make an excel­lent book for dis­cus­sion groups, and would be appro­pri­ate for Jew­ish col­lec­tions serv­ing teens. Com­mu­ni­ties must con­sid­er whether the accept­ing atti­tudes towards pre­mar­i­tal sex and homo­sex­u­al­i­ty among Simone’s friends make the book right for their libraries. Ages 14 and up. 

Hei­di Estrin is librar­i­an for the Feld­man Chil­dren’s Library at Con­gre­ga­tion B’nai Israel in Boca Raton, FL. She is a past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries.

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