Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.
The Family Diamond
This sparkling yet touching story collection, set in the Philadelphia environs, celebrates family in all its messy glory. Relationships are examined, analyzed, and mined for treasure, sometimes buried deep. There’s the father whose need for attention from his son borders on obsessive. There are the sister and brother who, in facing the death of their mother, try to understand one another’s choices. There are several affecting tales of sibling rivalry as well as one of a young boy trying to protect his father from being beaten by a thug over a business deal gone wrong. The pain of relationships is palpable here, but so are the joy and the trust and the love. The stories are linked by theme, culture, and geography as well as by a number of recurring characters who seem to change and grow in the spaces between one story and the next. The most frequently recurring characters are Charles and Mildred Diamond, and the author manages, in spite of the short story format, to draw a portrait of the couple using perspective and depth, allowing us glimpses of Charles’ father and of his grandson as the family history unfolds. It’s an interesting and quirky collection, altogether earth-bound and realistic until one unexpected magical, shining moment at the very end that perhaps defines happily-ever-after for all of us.
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