Naomi’s Song

Sel­ma Kritzer Silverberg
  • Review
By – January 9, 2012
Although there have been sev­er­al books about the sto­ry of Ruth, not very much has been writ­ten about the oth­er impor­tant char­ac­ter in that sto­ry, Nao­mi. In this nov­el, Sel­ma Sil­ver­berg imag­ines the life that Nao­mi had before she mar­ries, from when she was a young bride through the well-known sto­ry of her rela­tion­ship with her daugh­ter-in-law Ruth. Based some­what on bib­li­cal sources and midrash, the author flesh­es out the char­ac­ter of Nao­mi so read­ers can sym­pa­thize with her dras­tic turns of for­tune. Nao­mi becomes a sym­pa­thet­ic char­ac­ter as a vic­tim of abuse by her adop­tive fam­i­ly and a hero­ine in her brave defense of Ruth. The famine that dri­ves Nao­mi and her hus­band and sons to Moab is described in real­is­tic terms. The tragedy of her sons’ and husband’s death is also relat­ed mat­ter-of-fact­ly. Nao­mi, although giv­en more details about her life, is not ful­ly real­ized as a woman with strong­ly felt emo­tions. Her sto­ry is told with scant emo­tion despite the hor­ren­dous expe­ri­ences she lived through. For those who like bib­li­cal fic­tion, this is a nice addi­tion to the body of work. Because the nov­el describes in some detail the abuse she suf­fered, it is rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 and older.
Susan Dubin was the first librar­i­an hon­ored with a Milken Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion Jew­ish Edu­ca­tor Award. She is the owner/​director of Off-the-Shelf Library Ser­vices and library instruc­tion­al con­sul­tant at Val­ley Beth Shalom Day School in Enci­no, CA.

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