This novel weaves together the life of a young budding rock star with the tragic story of how his mother survived the Holocaust. Peter Jameson grows up cocooned in the suburbs of New Jersey, enjoying the closeness of his three friends who make up his rock band, The Master Planets. A typical egocentric American adolescent, living the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, Peter has little connection to and knowledge about his family until disaster strikes at home.
The chapters, which span half a century, alternate between Peter’s story and that of Rachel Arenberg, alias for Peter’s mother. Peter is forced by others to confront his mother’s tragic past as a revengeful partisan, in order to understand who she was and how this has affected him. The chapters which delve into Peter’s family history are by far the most compelling, while the music business story serves as an interesting but weaker counterpoint.
Gallinger describes both time periods and geographical locations meticulously and colorfully. His jarring, raw language puts the reader right into the scenes. The author provides an unusual angle to the themes of survival, denial, revenge, family loyalty, and the inevitability of suffering to the second generation of Holocaust survivors.
Miriam Bradman Abrahams is a Cuban-born, Brooklyn-raised, Long Island-residing mom. She is Hadassah Nassau’s One Region One Book chairlady, a freelance essayist, and a certified yoga instructor who has loved reviewing books for the JBC for the past ten years.