These 13 connected stories mostly revolve around Osnat Greenberg. Born to an American father and Israeli mother, Osnat is taken by her parents from her home in Tel Aviv to Michigan when she is entering seventh grade. Throughout her life, she struggles to find her real identity and where she truly belongs. Though she grows up in the US, she still feels the need to return to Israel because of a debt she thinks she must pay for having abandoned her country. But when she does return, she can’t shake the feeling that she doesn’t belong there either.
The other stories are told from the perspective of Osnat’s father; Harriet, a Jewish girl whose life at first doesn’t seem to be connected to Osnat’s; Osnat’s mother; Noam, an Israeli man who decides to leave for America; and of course Osnat as she tries to find her way and herself in the world.
Osnat’s Identity Crisis
With the United States having such a strong influence on the world, it’s always been difficult to separate ourselves from their culture. We watch their television shows and movies, read their books, eat their food, wear their clothing, and use their words. Osnat’s struggle is much stronger than ours. She was uprooted from a totally different culture and placed into another, leaving her confused and guilty.
It makes one wonder if this is the same difficulty Filipino-Americans have as well—or Filipinos who grew up in another country or were uprooted at a young age. Do they experience a cultural confusion and identity crisis as well?
Complicated characters are always interesting, especially if you cannot predict what they will do next. Osnat’s mother is an example of such a character. She marries Marvin Greenberg, but she hates all things American. She decides to leave for the US even if she longs for her Israeli home every single day. She leaves her husband more than once, but claims she never did. She finds a job in a bridal shop and pretends to be French.
Her relationships with her husband and daughter are just as complicated as her character, making you want to keep reading to find out more.
If you enjoy short stories, this is definitely not a letdown. But there are some people who may not enjoy the way stories do not flow into each other the way chapters in a novel do. Once you get past this, though, you will notice that Danit Brown’s style is refreshing and enjoyable. For example, you will come across a story that may not have any connection to Osnat’s life, but later on you eventually see where the characters intersect and affect each other’s lives.
Bookshelf Meter: 4 stars
1 star – Don’t even bother.
2 stars – Since there’s nothing else to read…
3 stars – Worth a borrowing from a friend, but not buying your own
4 stars – Deserves a spot on your nightstand.
5 stars – Grab this book now and forget the one you’re reading!
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Got a question or comment for Olivia? Email her at email@example.com.
Olivia Yao has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet.