Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Believers - Zoe Heller

The Believers is the latest from the author of Notes on a Scandal (which I haven't read, but have heard good things about). This is set up like a lot of books I read and enjoy, and reminded me of Zadie Smith's novels. The Believers features the Litvinoff family i nNew York - headed by socialist lawyer Joel and his British wife Audrey. They have three children: Rosa, who has become disillusioned with her work at a teen program in Harlem and is discovering Orthodox Judaism, much to her mother's dismay and ridicule; Karla, who while battling her poor self-image, fertility issues and a controlling annoying spouse, finds herself falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand outside her office; and Lenny, a foster child turned drug addict, who needs to escape his mother's codependence to find his own sobriety. Joel unexpectedly suffers a stroke that leaves him in a coma, and every one else in the family is left to question their life choices, and the impact his life choices have had on them. This book is filled with the idiosyncracies of family and what we all put up with in the name of love. There were times when the characters were a bit too ridiculous for me to handle. Audrey, who prides herself on her non-warm and fuzzy demeanor is so "brutally honest" with her children that it is painful to read. And Karla's husband is the most self-centered jerk, I wanted to excise all the pages on which his character appeared. This is one of those books that proceeds without resolution, but the glimpse into the varied lives of these individuals made for quite a read.

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