I received this email recently:
“I do want to share, we were picking the next few books for book club. I was talking about your book and someone explained it so I get it now.
It was an Israeli woman. She said Americans like Disney endings. Everyone lives happily ever after. Israelis like to leave you thinking. Your book leaves you thinking. It’s memorable. Any other ending It might not be in my thoughts.”
As an author, there’s nothing I hate more than spoilers. But, I keep hearing comments and groans about the ending to The Kiddush Ladies, so I will respond.
I wrote an ending that may not be Disney, but it’s the ending needed to emphasize the point of the story. Sometimes it’s our own irrational thoughts, actions, and decisions that prevent us from living “happily-ever-after.” As humans, we often permit emotional reactions to supersede logic thought. And, unfortunately, we tend to take out our hurt on the people we love the most.
The Kiddush Ladies explores irrational thought and behavior at the most extreme level, while integrating the role of forgiveness. Naomi learned to forgive and set herself free to be happy. Becky couldn’t forgive her mother, which opened the door for bitterness, resentment and a desperate need to be in control. She was tormented by the false truths she concocted in her own mind, which sent her spiraling into the realm of emotional torment and obsession.
(Huge spoiler alert in next sentence.)
I hope when you reach the final pages of the book that you put it down and think.
What really killed Noah?
Thank you to The Jewish Lady for this great review. Please take a minute to check out her cool blog!
If you’re member of a Pittsburgh area book group and are interested in reading either The Kiddush Ladies or Defective, offer me a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and I’ll be happy to come and discuss the book with you.
All others, I can pour my own coffee and meet you on Skype.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
E-books make great gifts!
The perfect gift for a Hanukkah party hostess.(Kindle and Nook software can be downloaded onto a phone for free!)
I was honored with the opportunity to present a webinar for The International Bipolar Foundation on September 28, 2016.
Mental Illness Doesn’t Have to Win!
(But If It Does, I Won’t Stop Talking Until The Neighbors Send Casseroles)
I’ve never been one for New Year resolutions. Not that I don’t have a million and one issues that need to be worked on, but I’m basically lazy and quite frankly, honest enough with myself to know that any significant resolution isn’t happening. I’ve grown attached to my bad habits and acquiring better ones is way too much work. I love carbs, wine and more wine. I’m disorganized by my husband’s standards. But I truly believe that creating piles on the floor around my desk is a legitimate system. No organization resolutions this year. As for my procrastination issues, I’ll get to those later.
I think there are two types of people. People that live in the future and people, like me, who dwell in the past. What are you? My husband is a definite future dweller. Most of his sentences begin with the words, “We should.” My sentences tend to begin with “remember when.” Unfortunately, I’m not a happy memory dweller. The world inside my head tends to be pretty bleak. Many of the people I love the most only exist in the past and to visit them, I have to travel back in time. In my mind’s eye, I can see them, hear them, and forget my real eyes will never see them.
This is my resolution; I’m going spend most of 2016 living in the present and thinking about the future. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not letting go of the people I loved, but it’s time for me to move into present tense. I’m going to force myself to stop feeling guilty for being here and stop obsessing over death. I’m, as the saying goes, going to play the hand I’ve been dealt—life.
So 2016, I’m here and plan on remaining present. I pray you bring good things.
P.S. There are a few exceptions, I’m not giving up 80’s music or indulging in oohing and aweing over my kid’s baby pictures.
On Friday evening, my husband and I were together, cooking Shabbat dinner. He’s in charge of salad and fish. I handle the rest. When I wasn’t looking, he switched my usual Pandora Amy Winehouse station to a Motown station. (Don’t you just love Pandora?) Within seconds he grabbed my hands and we were dancing around the kitchen like a couple of clumsy goof balls as Diana & The Supremes crooned about falling in and out of love. We were having a blast.
But, something else was also happening. For the two and a half minutes the song played, my mind left my kitchen and travelled back to a warm July day in 1982. I was nineteen again and riding in a big old blue bomb of a car with my Jersey shore summer roommates. We were cruising down the Garden State Parkway singing along with the Supremes. Thrilled that Diana “Got him back in my arms again.”
As a writer, I’m constantly searching for words to describe emotions, experiences and reactions, hoping I choose ones that resonate with the reader. I envy the musician/song writer because through their art, they achieve something I never will as a writer—time travel. When I hear the Supremes, I’m in that dumpy Ocean City apartment dancing with Diane, Stacey and Debbie. A Flock of Seagulls returns me to my first week at Pitt, inside the dorm room I shared with Suzanne. When anything by U2 plays, I’m with my brother, walking from the parking lot to Three Rivers Stadium to for the first, last and only U2 concert we saw together.
All of these are more than memories. I’m there. I see it. I feel it. Pictures are nice, but they don’t come close to evoking the experience as a song does. What do you think—Pictures or music? What transports you? Any special song/ memory you’d like to share? Write it in the comments.
Ironically, I don’t like books about mental illness. They’re depressing. You’re probably scratching your head right now thinking; she’s really nuts. Yeah, I am, but that’s not the point of this post.
A few weekends ago, I attended the Pennwriters Conference. The first question you get at a writer’s conference is “what do you write?” I’ve got the explanation of Defective down to about thirty-five words. I always expect to get an eye roll and a perfunctory “that’s nice.” Again, mental illness is a real downer. But, when people hear that it’s also a love story and a bit of a family saga, their interest perks up and within moments, they are telling me stories of how mental illness, either directly or indirectly, has affected their life.
I’ve developed a theory on why this happens. We’ve all been diagnosed with a physical illness, whether it is the flu, a broken arm, or diabetes. When this happens, we focus on the game plan to reach recovery—drink fluids, wear a cast of six weeks, change your diet and take your insulin.
Being diagnosed with a mental disorder is different. When you receive the diagnosis, your heart pounds against your chest, while you struggle to control the overwhelming desire to scream “no.” It’s at that moment all the mental illness movies you have ever seen—Girl, Interrupted, Silver Linings Playbook, The Hours, A Beautiful Mind, and so many more—become a montage playing out in front of your mind’s eye.
When you learn of friend or family member’s diagnosis, the reaction is an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, because there’s no real path to recovery, only treatments that may or may not work.
(Spoiler alert) My thirty- five word description of Defective is surprising because it offers hope to people hungry for a happy ending, to a story that feels doomed to be a tragedy.
I think that from this point on when people ask what Defective is about, I’m just going to say one word—hope.