A Heart Just Like My Mother’s

Lela Nar­gi; Vale­ria Cis, illus.

  • Review
By – February 21, 2018

Anna, an intro­spec­tive, cre­ative, and self-dep­re­cat­ing young girl finds her­self lack­ing com­pared to her ele­gant and fash­ion­able moth­er. Con­tem­plat­ing her mother’s excit­ing escapades, she thinks of her­self as not as cre­ative, not as car­ing, and not as much fun.

Anna’s devot­ed moth­er delights in cel­e­brat­ing with spe­cial food, whether for Rosh Hashanah, the last day of school, or a cousin’s third birth­day. The two of them take many out­ings to Mr. Reuben’s Mar­ket, a fan­cy food empo­ri­um that sells old-world Jew­ish prod­ucts: bab­ka, smoked fish, rugelach, olives, pick­les, and more.

On one of their mar­ket excur­sions, Anna sees a hun­gry man on the street and is inspired to begin a tzedakah project to help him. Through this expe­ri­ence she dis­cov­ers an intrin­sic con­nec­tion to her ide­al­ized moth­er; maybe they aren’t so dif­fer­ent, after all.

The illus­tra­tions, espe­cial­ly of Mr. Reuben’s Mar­ket, are delight­ful. The sto­ry opens up many pos­si­ble dis­cus­sion top­ics: the mean­ing of tzedakah, endur­ing pover­ty and how to help peo­ple in need, fam­i­ly dynam­ics, and the impor­tance of food in fam­i­ly rituals.

Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer, Helen Weiss Pin­cus, has taught mem­oir writ­ing and cre­ative writ­ing through­out the NY Metro area to senior cit­i­zens and high school stu­dents. Her work has been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Record, The Jew­ish Stan­dard, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She recent­ly added Bub­by” to her job description.

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