Monthly Archives: October 2012

Book Review – Change of Heart

A Change of Heart, by Jodi Picoult is an excellent novel that examines several factors, from the death penalty to religion and politics, and to the dynamics of organ donation.

Shay Bourne is awaiting execution on death row in New Hampshire, for the murder of policeman Kurt Nealon and his stepdaughter, Elizabeth. Bourne wants to donate his heart to Claire, sister of murdered victim, Elizabeth. It will be the first execution in 69 years. Bourne feels it is the only way he can find redemption and salvation, within his personal spiritual belief. The problem is that in order to donate his heart to Claire, death must be by hanging in order for the heart to be able to be useful, and he has been sentenced to death by lethal injection.

It is not without reason that I find Picoult named the prisoner Shay Bourne. The given name Shay in Hebrew means supplanter and also gift, and the Irish meaning is hawk and also can mean admirable, while the Gaelic meaning is gift. The surname Bourne means spring or stream, or one who lives near a spring or stream, or even border/boundary. It can also mean birth, beginning, rebirth. The variable meanings of these names can apply to the personality, mindset, and the endeavor of Shay Bourne to donate his heart to Claire.

Change of Heart is like a woven tapestry, and alternates between Bourne, June Nealon..wife of Kurt, Michael…a priest who was on the jury that convicted Bourne… now Bourne’s spiritual advisor, Lucius…a prisoner, Maggie…Jewish and an ACLU representative, and finally, Claire…who is awaiting a heart transplant. We view the events unrolling through their individual perspectives.

Shay is viewed by some as the Messiah, due to certain incidents in prison where others feel he performed miracles, such as reviving a dead bird, bringing wine through the prison water system, etc. The Gnostic Gospels come into play, also, as Bourne seems to be able to quote from them, with sayings supposedly made by Jesus. Bourne becomes a martyr of sorts for the death penalty.

Jodi Picoult has written a compelling novel, on many levels, including mother-daughter relationships, prisoner rights in relation to religious beliefs and their choice of how to die, forgiveness and love, and church and state. Many questions arise. At what point is organized religion the answer to our faith? Can religious boundaries be crossed through over-zealousness? Is the death penalty the answer to murder? Should prisoners donate organs? There are many thoughts to ponder, and no clear or definitive answer to the questions that are conjured in our mind. Jodi Picoult brings those issues to the forefront in


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Views on Wednesday

The Other Son
, sounds like an extremely thought-provoking and compelling film, encompassing conflict, in varied forms.

Read about Steven Spielberg and his childhood filled with bullying.

October 24, 2012= 8 Cheshvan, 5773

No permission is granted to publish or use my reviews, writings or photography in any aspect without my written permission.


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Tuesday Black and White

Shadows and Lines
geometrical forms within the forest
man made from wood…a natural stairway
steps taken to another realm
a journey down…
takes us away to moments of quietude
as we reflect on times past
as tears, smiles and love envelop us
when we trek back up…
the past reflections dwell within
to illuminate us with fond memories
a step away, a heartbeat away
a breath away
Copyright 2001, MW

Visit Our World Tuesday for more photographs from around the world.

October 23, 2012= 7 Cheshvan, 5773

No permission is granted to publish or use my reviews, writings or photography in any aspect without my written permission.


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Review – The Liberated Bride

The Liberated Bride by A.B. Yeshoshua is a masterful study on the meaning of borders, boundaries, and crossings. It is also a story about relationships and interactions, from familial to friendship, student, professor to writer. Although it has comic moments and visuals of comic relief, it is not a comedy, but is a serious and insightful novel. Yet, it can be defined as somewhat of a farce (I know, I know, that sounds like a bit of an oxymoron), as the pace of the book is somewhat frantic and filled with anxious and tense moments, much like the actions of Yochanan Rivlin, the main character. Yehoshua deftly conveys a roller coaster of emotions in “The Liberated Bride“.

The novel winds from first person to second person, more than once, but always from Rivlin’s perspective. He has recently retired as a Near-Eastern Studies Department Chair. He is obsessed with the fact that he has no answers as to why his son (who lives in Paris) is divorced from his bride of one-year, and he intrudes in every aspect in order to find out the answer. He steps outside of acceptable privacy boundaries with his manipulative behavior, past the point of no return, and past the possibility of stepping back to assess and admit the truth of his actions to himself.

The book opens at a Palestinian wedding, where Samaher (the bride) has invited Jewish professors to attend. In fact, the wedding is being put on strictly for them, as she already has been legally married within her Arab environment. Samaher is a student, working on her degree, and she eventually suffers from depression (a form of dropping out on reality, which in some weird sense can be viewed as liberating). He hates attending weddings, as they remind him of his son Ofer”s marriage and divorce five years earlier.

Rivlin wants to leave the wedding early, but his wife (a bride of sorts), Hagit, encourages him to stay. They have had a long and successful marriage, but his wife is constantly trying to discourage him from trying to find out why his son divorced, and is quite assertive through her attitude and verbalizating to Rivlin regarding his absurd escapades and fiascoes (some of them she doesn’t find out until after the fact). That facet of his personality irritates her. She is a well-respected and successful district judge, independent woman. Her job requires her to make difficult decisions and rulings when people cross the boundaries of the law, much like a Biblical Deborah. She also understands the need for privacy, as she handles top-secret cases. She believes in structure in life, whereas Rivlin seems to dismiss them. He is in a constant state of obsession, always searching for the unknown answers, as the historian in him emerges at every turn, to the dismay of others.

Rivlin’s own family members travel worldwide, from city to country to continent, back and forth, crossing borders, internationally and culturally. They almost always attend a wedding in their travels. Rivlin himself travels the highways and roads of Israel, crossing borders, both physically and emotionally, as he manipulates everyone in his life, in his unyielding search for answers.

The book details much of daily life in the Middle East, and our senses are filled with activity, smells, tastes, sights and sounds, and also the conflicts within different cultures residing in the same country (the book was written before the current problems and situation). Each culture is dependent on each other, and interdependent on each other within the cultural independence. Each person is dependent on their own culture, and also other cultures for survival. Each person is seeking truth. Yehoshua brings strong human elements to the characters. Parents from one culture do not necessarily fit the mold of the other culture. Liberation is difficult to come by, no matter what example it encompasses.

Being a parent doesn’t give you exclusivity into the lives of your child, and your need-to-know diminishes when they become adults. Yehoshua is brilliant in his insight regarding familial bonds and the ties that bind family members, and also brilliant in his assessment of familial boundaries and privacy, and what constitutes invasion of that privacy.

Liberation often seems fleeting. Defining liberation takes on many formats, and within people, what is liberating to one, can be repressing to another. Innocence, romance, ideals, whether between individuals or within the formation of a county, begs one to live peacefully. Marriage of a country and its citizens includes many issues to consider and to undertake. There are other brides, other aspects of the almost 600-page book that I won’t delve into, that you should read yourself.

Yehoshua leaves us to wonder who or what exactly “The Liberated Bride” is, as the word “bride” takes on many connotations, including “bridge”. Is the bride a human being/s, state of being or mindset, a country, or is it a combination of all those factors. That is the brilliance of Yehoshua, his ability to convey and bring substance to the characters and the country in The Liberated Bride. A.B. Yehoshua was born in Jerusalem, and his own understanding of Israel is intense and runs deep. That is clearly evident in his excellent and masterful writing, with his gift for weaving diverse fabrics and threads into a tapestry of life.

I am an avid reader of A.B. Yehoshua’s books. In my opinion, no matter when first published, his works are timely even within the social, political and ethical considerations, today. Read The Liberated Bride yourself, and make your own judgements as to who or what the bride is or represents.


I personally own and have read this book.

October 22, 2012= 6 Cheshvan, 5773

No permission is granted to publish or use my reviews, writings or photography in any aspect without my written permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Judaism, Novels

Antoni Dobrowolski Oldest Known Auschwitz Survivor

Antoni Dobrowolski
, the oldest known living survivor of Auschwitz died yesterday, October 21, 2012. Read here, to learn more about his underground efforts during World War II.

May his memory be for a Loving Blessing.

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Book Review – The Polish Boxer

The Polish Boxer, by Eduardo Halfon, ( Translated from the Spanish by Daniel Hahn, Ollie Brock, Lisa Dillman, Thomas Bunstead and Anne McLeanuite) is the fictional compilation of stories of one man’s search for identity and substance through his encounters with other individuals. I say fictional, but after a bit of research regarding the author, the book also seems to border on a non-fiction accounting, or even a memoir.

Eduardo Halfon, the narrator of the slim volume of stories has the same name as the author. He (the narrator) is a Literature Professor, who opens the book in a classroom setting, searching for answers from his students to his presented questions. He doesn’t quite understand their lack of comprehension, boredom or feigned interest.

One student stands out from all of the rest, a brilliant young man who seems to have insight into the answers Halfon is seeking. Through no fault of his own, he must drop out of class. His priorities are with a family situation, and he doesn’t hesitate to do what is expected of him, and doesn’t take the steps out of guilt, but out of survival.

The narrator’s grandfather has a story that resonates on the Holocaust, although he hides it from his grandson until the grandson finds out otherwise. That is a secret within the pages, a secret held until his grandfather reveals the truth. The truth being he was saved and taught survival skills through a Polish Boxer. Once the narrator is explained the truth of decades past, his outlook changes. What he once thought was reality is shattered by the revelations. The illusions presented to him throughout his life take on new meaning in his journey of questioning, discovery and answers.

And, so go the other stories, each one significant to the whole, each one a portion of the entirety, each one filled with mystery, revelation, while Halfon, the author, brilliantly plays life against itself, almost in oxymoron fashion. What we see depicted is not necessarily the reality of the situation. Secrets inhabit the stories, reality can be distorted, and one’s sense of self is not necessarily the actuality of their thinking.

I found Eduardo Halfon to be masterful and quite excellent in his word visuals. He left this reader with a lot to ponder within the multi story volume. Although slim, it is compelling reading, infused with sensitivity, humor, touching moments, magical prose, and illuminating stories.

I highly recommend The Polish Boxer to everyone. There is a story within the pages for all readers.

I want to thank LibraryThing for my review copy. I also want to thank the Bellevue Literary Press for the review copy.

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