When We Were Bad

Char­lotte Mendelson
  • Review
By – November 14, 2011

Things hap­pen.” Thus begins the sto­ry about a won­der­ful Eng­lish fam­i­ly with four grown chil­dren, one son in-law, grand­chil­dren, a father and a most beau­ti­ful, sexy and pow­er­ful moth­er, Clau­dia Rubin. She is, per­haps, the first female rab­bi in England. 

The Rubin fam­i­ly looks per­fect. This image so care­ful­ly orches­trat­ed over many years by Rab­bi Clau­dia begins to split at the seams and sends every­one spin­ning. Do they all love each oth­er? Def­i­nite­ly! Do they all have their own issues and secrets? Def­i­nite­ly! Is this a typ­i­cal fam­i­ly, Jew­ish or not, Eng­lish or oth­er? Def­i­nite­ly! The sto­ry touch­es on every pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tion of issues we, our spous­es, or our chil­dren encounter and strug­gle with every day. It cel­e­brates the unique­ness of each mem­ber of a fam­i­ly, as well as illus­trates the some­times wrench­ing strug­gle for inde­pen­dence and individuality. 

While at times this nov­el is over­writ­ten, and one might lose patience with overindulged self-doubts, no one could read through the Rubin Passover Seder with­out a smile-induc­ing déjà-vu moment. Is it a good read? Definitely!

Pen­ny Metsch, MLS, for­mer­ly a school librar­i­an on Long Island and in New York City, now focus­es on ear­ly lit­er­a­cy pro­grams in Hobo­ken, NJ.

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