Not Me, by Michael Lavigne, is a compelling novel on so many levels. For me it was a metaphor for self identity, sin and change, and the superficial roles that one plays in order to move on with their life and flee from the consequences of their actions.
Not Me is a study in the father-son relationship, and is a unique Holocaust story. Within the pages, their relationship is redefined. The father and son relationship is explored with intensity.
Heshel Rosenheim, suffering from Alzheimer’s, is Michael’s father. While Michael is caring for his father, he is handed some old journals/diaries written by his father that will alter the course of his (Michael’s) life, life and family history as he knew it.
Heshel has been living as a Holocaust survivor since the end of World War II. His journals tell otherwise. And, this, is the root of the reality, upon which Michael has been handed. The foundation of his life has been shattered.
Heshel, a man whose cowardly acts could not be suppressed by running from the truth of his actions, is seeking consolation of some sort from his son. He wants Michael to learn the facts, after all of these years of hiding them from him. The quandary resulting from Michael’s reading the journals is cemented.
Heshel learned that fleeing only negates the truth, which followed him everywhere he went. Within the context of the self identity are the themes of love, loss, forgiveness and redemption. The blur between forgiveness and redemption is obvious in the way Lavigne writes.
Michael is rent between his new found knowledge and his love for his father. He is a man who is floundering. He is divided between the truth and the superficiality of his childhood. He is torn between who he truly is and what he is. Does the truth negate who we actually are, have become through living, or thought we were? This is a question the reader is exposed to.
It is a book that is fascinating, compelling, insightful, poignant and comical, and one that I highly recommend.