The In-Betweens: A Lyri­cal Memoir

  • Review
By – April 18, 2023

In this lyric mem­oir, author Davon Loeb describes his emerg­ing iden­ti­ty as a young bira­cial young man in New Jer­sey. Born to a white Jew­ish father who had an extra­mar­i­tal affair with his Black Chris­t­ian moth­er, Loeb reflects on how his back­ground has shaped the man he is becom­ing — and com­ing to understand.

Loeb’s writ­ing style always feels inti­mate, ever aware of the setting’s socioe­co­nom­ic and racial fault lines. But it is the sec­tions in which he writes about his expe­ri­ences with his mother’s extend­ed fam­i­ly in Alaba­ma that tru­ly shine. They pro­vide a back­drop for the com­plex web of rela­tion­ships that inspire him, tex­ture his sto­ries, and depart from what he shares about his father’s fam­i­ly. The por­traits he paints of his grand­fa­ther in Alaba­ma, and his step­fa­ther in New Jer­sey, are par­tic­u­lar­ly thought­ful and sympathetic.

Loeb’s writ­ing is art­ful, and read­ers can appre­ci­ate the care with which he choos­es his words. While some may pre­fer a book with a more obvi­ous chrono­log­i­cal order, the delib­er­ate loose­ness of the memoir’s struc­ture gives Loeb’s rem­i­nis­cences an ethe­re­al qual­i­ty. The In-Betweens is not a book to gulp down in a sin­gle sit­ting. One must get to know Loeb slow­ly, one mem­o­ry at a time.

Deb­o­rah Miller received rab­bini­cal ordi­na­tion at the Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. She lives in New Jer­sey with her hus­band and daugh­ter, where she serves as a hos­pice chap­lain and teacher.

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