Jul 25, 2010

Book Review: "Into The Whirlwind" by Tzippora Price

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a copy of the book.

The blurb on the book, Into The Whirlwind says:
When the Rosenblums and Kahns, both typical families with teenaged children, decide to relocate to Israel, little do they dream of the repercussions that will soon follow. The struggles begin on a small scale, but it doesn't take long before they snowball into challenges of mammoth proportions. As each family deals with issues in its own way, readers get a very real glimpse into the world of family dynamics - when they come under attack. Whirlwind weaves together the emotional drama of hurting teenagers with the insight and brilliance of those attempting to alleviate that pain, for a book whose realness will astound you.
Let me start off by saying that "frummie novels" are getting much much better. As someone who grew up reading "real books", frummie novels were almost always a disappointment in their quality of writing, their story development, their character development and every other aspect of a book you can think of.

But frummie novels are getting much much better. The quality of the writing is improving tremendously. Stories are being developed far better than they used to be. And reading frummie novels is becoming a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience than it used to be.

"Into The Whirlwind" is a book that is very well written. The overall story is developed very thoroughly, in a way that makes the reader relate to the characters, the incidents, and the emotions in the story.

The book is about two families that make aliyah at the same time, and the story follows the two families as they adjust to their new lives in Israel. It focuses on the difficulties of each family with their childrens adjustments and how they each dealt with their situation.

Rav Leff says in his approbation of the book, "Although the situations take place in Eretz Yisroel, the book does not intimate that these problems are endemic to Eretz Yisroel or caused by the nature of its society, hence there is not even a hint of "Dibus Haaretz" - malignign Eretz Yisroel."

The book really focuses on the difficulty these kids had in adjusting to Eretz Yisroel, and despite the above approbation, I did feel uncomfortable that the book seems to be painting a dismal picture of what will happen when families make aliyah.

Thinking about it though, I came to the realization that the problems described in the book are as a result of aliyah adjustment, but it really could have been about anything. Kids have trouble adjusting to all sorts of situations, and aliyah is just one potential problem of many. I still would have liked to see another family in the book that was well adjusted with no problems, just to balance it out and show that not everyone who makes aliyah is going to go through these difficulties.

The story of the book is, as I said, very well written. It started off slowly for me, as I have a tough time remembering names and personalities, and the story introduces many people, many names, very quickly. I would have had an easier time if it introduced the characters a bit more evenly distributed through the first few chapters, letting me get used to who is who.

But the book picked up quickly. After the first couple of chapters, suddenly I could not put the book down. I began to relate to the different characters in the story, and kept wanting to know more about what they did and how they decided to do whatever they did.

The overall story is made up of a lot of smaller sub-stories, and the sub-stories at time left me wanting more. the sub-stories would get cut off in the middle, just describing the beginning of a conflict or of a troubling situation. I was left wondering what the character decided to do in that specific instance, even though for the overall story it was not important. I guess if Mrs. Price had followed every sub-story all the way through, the book would probably have turned out to be thousands of pages long!

The story takes the reader through the difficulties of the teenage children in their adjustments, and it really drives home the issues well. It made me empathetic with what they were going through. It made me, as an outsider picturing these families, think to myself how this situation could have been dealt with differently, this father was clearly blind to what was going on and if he would be less self-absorbed would be able to deal with his kids and save them from where they were headed. It really makes the reader rethink and reanalyze how he approaches issues of conflict and what can be done in a given situation, what should be done, and hopefully will make people step back and not think their kids difficulties is just "acting out" or an immature disturbance into "my life", but will look at the situation and try to resolve it in the best way possible.

Tzippora Price is a family therapist who probably deals with these types of situations all the time, unfortunately. She is writing this book from knowledge and experience. One can tell from reading the book that she put he professional skills and knowledge as a therapist into the book, turning out a story that is totally realistic and shocking in watching how peoples prejudices and mistakes cause the development of problems to accelerate.

As I said, I got to a point, fairly quickly, in which I could not put the book down as I wanted to find out what happend to Avi, how Josh solved a situation, what Devori did, and how Shira hurt her friend. The truth is that at times some of the issues that cropped up were surprising in how they were dealt with, and some of the personalities developed were also surprising, after reading about how the person was developing, I would have expected a different end-result or different decision to be made. It really was refreshing and made me rethink how situations can, and should be, dealt with, along with being a reminder to not think you know everything about a person and what they would do just because you see one facet of the person. People will surprise you, both for bad and for good.

I can easily recommend this book. It is a great book, a troubling story that you just don't want to put down because you just have to know, and you hope to high heaven, as they say, that everyone will turn out ok in the end, which in real life is sadly not always the case, but because you have already become part of the family in the book, you hope that in this case it does.

The book is available online, in many bookstores as well as in our local Feldheim (if you live in RBS), and also from the author herself on Nachal Revivim - in which case you can also get a discussion guide, a guide to fostering healthy communication with your teenager, and an autographed copy!

As the author said to me, Ideally, this is a book that both parent and teen can read and discuss, a conversation which the discussion guide helps to facilitate.

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. this was originally a serial feature in Connections (a local Bet Shemesh magazine) and I looked forward to each new issue because of Tzippora's writing.


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