Please Say Kaddish for Me: A Novel for Everyone

PleaseSayKaddishForMe

From the very first page of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’s novel Please Say Kaddish for Me, I was swept up in Havah Cohen’s story. I was spellbound, so much so, I didn’t want to put this book down. The book is simultaneously driven by character and events at a quick pace, divided into four parts. The year is 1899 in Czarist Russia, a time marked by Jewish pogroms in which entire families are randomly massacred. 

The book begins with a horrible tragedy of Havah Cohen, our main heroine, and the slaughter of her family in the middle of the night. When we meet her, Havah is driven from her home, shocked and grief-stricken, and wanders barefoot, reciting the Hebrew prayer of Kaddish, a prayer for the living for the dead and for the bereft.

Because Havah is a rabbi’s daughter, she is well versed in its study which was uncommon at the time. So, when a father and son, Yussel and Arel Gitterman, find Havah at their doorstep, mumbling Kaddish, they are awestruck and quickly come to her aid. What’s more, Arel who has been promised to another since the age of 13, is completely captivated by Havah’s presence. When Havah is conscious and recovering, she too becomes aware of her forbidden connection to Arel. At the heart of this story is romantic, passionate love between Havah and Arel, and the barriers that they face.

This story is also about the love of family and of community, and how this love transcends the horrible acts inflicted upon them. There are many characters in Ms. Wisoff-Fields’s story, but I was never overwhelmed, but rather carried along, almost as an eavesdropper, but just as easily a participant, for it is hard not to get wrapped up in the anguish of this community and the depth of their suffering. Her descriptions of the horror of these brutal acts are gruesome, vivid and difficult to read, I believe as they should be.

I am struck by the authenticity and honest portrayal of this dire time in history, and by this family’s resilience, their bravery and the way that they lift one another up. Their Jewish faith holds them together, but their traditions and customs are also challenged in the face of all that is at stake and with the complete upheaval of their lives.

Wisoff-Fields’s storytelling is keen and her writing both crisp and fluid, but underneath it all, the author’s passion is undeniably present. There are no words wasted here. As I read, I felt as though I was standing next to them, hearing them breathe and listening to them speak. It’s not often I feel this way when I read a book. Her characters are well-drawn and, in fact, as the author is also a talented artist, she has actually illustrated many of her characters and provided character studies. You can find them posted on her blog Addicted to Purple and on her publisher’s website Loiacono Literary Agency.

As many of you may know, Rochelle is also the host of a wonderful writing community, Friday Fictioneers. There, I have enjoyed many of her well-crafted stories. It is with great pleasure that I recommend Please Say Kaddish for Me. As I read the last page, I thought to myself, “Everyone should read this book.” Now, more than ever, this story needs to be read and shared, because unfortunately the world is not a more kind and gentle place. I hope that this story also finds a place inside the classroom, with its message of compassion and courage of the human spirit.

Please note this story is the first part of a trilogy. Her sequel From Silt and Ashes is also just recently published and available.
fromsiltandashes

You can find Rochelle’s books here on Amazon and from W&B Publishers. 

Here is video for Please Kaddish for Me, I think you’ll enjoy. (used with permission)

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NaNo…Who…Knew

NaNo Who Ha

NaNo Mo Fa

NaNo Who Knew

The End

I guess I can do better than that…oh, I’ll try.

This writing thing…DANG!…it’s hard.

She’s bursting with creative juices. All I need is a cape and lights!

Here’s my latest NaNoWriMo update in which I will give myself a pep talk and you, dear reader, can observe me slip into madness.

All work and no play make Amy a dull girl

All work and no play make Amy a dull girl

All work and no play make Amy a dull girl

Do you see where I’m going with this one?

This is not one of those posts where I tell you that my story is just flowing out of me. I’m still waiting for that creative surge to hit allowing me to write with literary abandon, where my characters are writing my book for me. Hmm…no, not quite.

Now for reals…I’ve written 8,534 words to date. Whoo hoo! This means that I’m on target and writing the necessary amount to achieve the 50,000 words by the end of the month. One of my goals is to not fall behind, because as soon as I do, I fear I won’t be able to catch up.

Now, are they good words, you might ask? No. In fact, I don’t think I want anyone to read this. It’s raw and messy. So far, a lot it is back story. Is is the research I should have done beforehand? Perhaps. If you were to see my book in screen form, it would be a lot flashbacks.

If I thought it could really make a good book, it would be a definite rewrite. I’ve determined this is a grand experiment. I’m sure if I were left to my own devices, I might abandon this project altogether for fear that it isn’t any good. So, with nothing to lose, it would seem it might be easier to write freely, to write for writing’s sake. This is goal #2.  Let my characters and my writing roam free. I’ll see how my story shapes up.

I try to write in the morning first thing at about 6 am. Then I take a few chunks of it later in the day. That schedule seems to work for me. The most difficult thing is doing it everyday. However, everyday does feel like an accomplishment. Those words I wrote, even if they’re crappy, weren’t there the day before. How’s that? All in all, so far so good.

P.S. Blogging friends, I don’t want to disappear off the face of the blogosphere. I still want to read your posts. If by chance I don’t comment on your post, please don’t take it personally. I probably can’t write another word!

photo credit: rachel a. k. via photopin cc

NaNoWriMo Why Not?

I decided if I could come up ten reasons to do NaNoWriMo, then I decided I would be all out of excuses. So, I’m doing it!

Here are my 10 reasons:
1.  I’m not working; this is actually the most perfect time to do this.

2.  Instead of stressing about the job I DON”T have (see #1)  I might as well be writing. Duh!

3. I will feel a sense of accomplishment everyday; this is not true of the job search; then I won’t need to stress at all (see #2).

4.  There is nothing like a deadline to give you a good PUSH.

5.  I have a story floating around in my head somewhere; all I need to do is capture  it and demand an explanation.

6.  I plan to buy a new candle and light it at the beginning of all my writing sessions; I will have a ritual; I want a daily ritual; I might as well be writing as I perform this ritual (I actually stole this from someone else; isn’t it cool?).

7.  It’s only 1,666 words a day; They’re just words on a page, a rough draft; Ah, that’s nothing; Wait, I don’t like that number at all; How about 1,667? Better. Something is bound to go wrong with that other number.

8.  I’ll connect with other aspiring writers; I won’t be alone.

9.  It will be all about process and output; all junk is allowed; I’ll be in touch with my creative self.

10.  At the end of 50,000 words, I will be named a winner! Yay! I want to be a winner.

50,000 words, now that sounds like an awful lot…what if I get behind…what if my story sucks…what if….too late! I signed up.

I am a bit nervous, so wish me luck. And, if you’re doing the NaNo, please connect with me. I’d love to have some buddies. I’m “thebumblefiles,” but I’m still haven’t completed my profile, or put in my genre, my title, my synopsis, my excerpt…I guess I better get busy.

Hope to see you out there!