|Book Reveiw 7-8
Monday, May 12, 2008
By Denise Turney
Let me begin by saying that this is one of the best novels I have read in recent months. Jan Goldstein knows how to craft a rich story with characters and a plot you won’t soon forget. This poignant story is so well weaved into the fabric of deep life events that impact us all, it’s near impossible to dismiss or separate yourself from the events that happen to the book’s characters. And it’s no wonder. The story springboards from real life events the author’s second cousin shared with him. The real life events surrounded how the author’s cousin survived the Nazi concentration camps as a young girl by hiding in a forest and later in a courageous neighbor’s attic.
But that is not what All That Matters is about. Not until the end of the book does the author weave the specifics of what happened to one of the story’s main characters, a feisty grandmother, when she was a child growing up Jewish at a time with Nazis made being so a death sentence. No. All That Matters tells the story of the grandmother’s granddaughter, a young woman with troubles and struggles of her own.
The book begins with Jennifer, the granddaughter in the story, making an attempt to cut her life short. Her mother has transitioned. Her father, who she has never been close to, is living in California, miles away from her, with his second wife and their newborn daughter. It’s a desperate time in Jennifer’s life. She doesn’t see a way out. For her hope is a resource that’s gone bankrupt. That is, until her grandmother Gittel “Gabby” Zuckerman, enters the picture and encourages Jennifer to come to New York City and live with her until she comes out of the storm. What Jennifer doesn’t know is that Gabby has a few struggles and challenges of her own, some of them she has lived with for years.
Gabby teaches Jennifer the value of life. She knows all too well what really matters. Love and good relationships are at the top of the list when it comes to what’s important to Gabby. All that aside, it’s not easy to convey the importance of keeping what really matters in life in your heart to Jennifer.
Jennifer is angry. She’s so caught up in her own pain that a lot of time passes before she begins to see that she’s not the only one who’s suffering. Her grandmother’s love for her, a source that won’t be moved or watered down, helps her navigate the rough and changing days of her life. More than anything it’s the way Jan Goldstein, an award winning poet and playwright, goes into the heart of the book’s characters that makes All That Matters the powerful, potent book that it is. Rarely have I read a book so well written. I shook my head and went “wow” when I reached the end of this story. Readers who value family and especially those who value the richness in relationships that cross generations, will treasure All That Matters.
If you’re looking for the type of novel that’s so well written it makes it to the shelves of award winning literature, All That Matters will not disappoint. If you’re looking for a book that will speak to challenges and struggles you have faced yourself, All That Matters may very well help provide strength for the journey. If you just like great, profound writing, this book is for you.
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