A Mother’s Love: For One More Day by Mitch Albom

I was (unknowingly) seeking a book that dives into the powerful and complicated mother-son dynamic when my eyes landed on Mitch Albom’s For One More Day sitting idly on the library shelves. Something about the blurb featuring the quote “Every family is a ghost story…” captivated me.

For One More Day explores the story of a mother and a son and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? This compact book packs a punch with what seemed like honest intentions on reconciling the hurt, love, and power dynamic over the decades within the Benetto family.For One More Day- bookspoils

I breezed through the first half, anticipating a reality-based retelling on mother-son connections, however, I was quickly given a lifetime movie in its place, when I was expecting something to hit as deeply as Motherhood and Emotional Intimacy in Tully 2018. Charles “Chick” Benetto is too frustrating for his own good. Honestly, his mother opening her arms to him after he spits in her face so many times is what makes her a true hero; a mother. She even invented a whole new way to say ILY: “I love you every day!”
She worked her butt off to send him to college to become a mensch and all he does is run off to his daddy at the first glance. She makes the effort time and again to communicate, he brushes her off with an “I’m busy. Maybe next week.” He gives up on fulfilling her dream to see him with a college degree only to make his father happy (which he’ll never be) by chasing the big leagues. F R U S T R A T I N G.

“I met a man once who did a lot of mountain climbing. I asked him which was harder, ascending or descending? He said without a doubt descending, because ascending you were so focused on reaching the top, you avoided mistakes.
“The backside of a mountain is a fight against human nature,” he said. “You have to care as much about yourself on the way down as you did on the way up.”
I could spend a lot of time talking about my life after baseball. But that pretty much says it.”

Speaking on frustration, the father is a piece of garbage. He never provided for them, or paid the basic alimony and living expenses after he up and left, and yet he stills perceives to live the best of both worlds, where he gets to slip in and out of Chick’s highlighted points in life. All he wants is to benefit himself by living vicariously through his son’s baseball career.

“Not surprisingly, my father faded with my athletic career.”

Another point: This also didn’t keep its full promise of delving into the mother-son dynamic when it focuses the majority of the story on unwrapping the mystery. So I cherished those chapters titled “Times My Mother Stood Up for Me” and “Times I Did Not Stand Up for My Mother” that showcase exactly what it is that I seek in this book: the complexity of family interactions and the details that make up our daily lives.For One More Day mother It blows wide open so many truths we hold out to be self-evident when it comes to parents and their kids and the impact they have on each other’s world.

“Sometimes your kids will say the nastiest things, won’t they, Rose? You want to ask, ‘Whose child is this?’”
Rose chuckled.
“But usually, they’re just in some kind of pain. They need to work it out.”
She shot me a look. “Remember, Charley. Sometimes, kids want you to hurt the way they hurt.”
To hurt the way they hurt? Was that what I had done? Had I wanted to see on my mother’s face the rejection I felt from my father? Had my daughter done the same to me?”

This made me sit still till I let it fully sink in. There’s so much truth in the phrase “Sometimes, kids want you to hurt the way they hurt.”

It’s stirring moments like these, simply, the small joys and frictions in life we tend to overlook over the years till they’re gone out of our grasp, that made this book shine over the bad.

Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.”

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Intimate Truths and Their Quiet Impact in The Storyteller by Eshkol Nevo

In preparation (and excitement) for this newest Nevo release to land in my hands, I reread my favorite story in Three Floors Up that entails the peak of his writing, for me: capturing snapshots of day-to-day life, like, Hani and Eviatar’s domestic tasks and the small moments that speak volumes in your family life. I still get goosebumps when I reread this:

three floors up-- bookspoils

The set-up of this book introduces basic questions you can find in any interview, but the main character takes this opportunity to plunge headfirst into the truth, which is what I like so dearly about the writing style. This Q&A concept allowed for a lot of freedom, similar to a book of essays or short stories, where if you don’t vibe with a particular question you can move on to the next one. I’d doze off when politics were discussed (like the campaign run), but when the writing would zoom back in to focus on the relationships with his wife and the complicity of raising children, I was all ears.

In particular, I wanted so badly to hear more about Shira and her kind curly-haired nature boy, Nadav. Shira also had such a dynamic history with her father that came crashing down on such a high note of mistrust, and I wanted to live through the resolution, not have it given to me in one line. Same goes for the wife’s final decision regarding their marriage after the event of Noam’s Bat mitzvah that was entirely glossed over, even though all were discussed and build-up throughout the book.

Plus, the story of Iris and her youngest son Nimrod that was my absolute favorite scene in the book. Like. an actual thrill shot through my heart when I read it. Full of memories and nostalgia you’d share around the table with your family, this is what this book felt like. We feel included in any conversation and the inside jokes shared, which is best felt by the interactions between the best friends in the group.

This book was so honest on every part of the character’s life, especially within his marriage, that I low-key had to check if the author was going through a divorce… I kept thinking about his answer at the start of the book about the blurred lines between truth and fiction: if a lie in a book becomes true over time in real life, what happens then?

There’s so much covered over the span of The Storyteller, and I like how I can catch myself thinking about something different each time I think back on it.

More Shira and Nadav!

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Review: Fly Already by Etgar Keret

My first fully completed Etgar Keret collection read in Hebrew, courtesy of the lovely librarian at my local library! (Previously read in English: The Seven Good Years, Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, & The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God.) Fly Already contains twenty-two character-driven short stories, circling different introspections on our thoughts through daily-life observations and reflection.

I took quite the journey for this latest Etgar Keret book to land in my hands, but here I am after having had quite a blast reading through the pages. The writer’s clever awareness of his surroundings hooked me in from the start. It’s present, in particular, with stories such as, “GooDeed” (which challenges economic privileges), “Pineapple Crush” (which shows the subtle importance of human connection and an ode to beautiful sunsets), “Pitriyah” (which breaks the fourth wall by voicing exactly my thoughts upon reading certain reveals) & “Don’t Do It!” (which brings a man’s journey full circle).

Everything was flowing all nice and dainty, until I came across the story “Tabula Rasa,” that pretty much made all the author’s hard work go down the drain, for me…

The book stooped so low so to manipulate the reader into emotionally identifying with a character presented as “A” and his situation of being locked up in an institution, when all he wants is to escape with his friend, Nadia. It all comes down to this: only to settle for the hurried reveal that “A” was bred and cloned to give a Holocaust survivor a sliver of peace by avenging his family murdered by Hitler’s Nazis. “A” then, of course, stands for Adolf Hitler, who in the meantime has been given a uniform and facial trim to match… Truly, what a cheap, distasteful joke to make of a ruthless dictator responsible for the deaths of millions. The writer makes a complete joke out of the survivor (what even was the look of making him practically beg “A” to be fearful of meeting his end) by sending the message that trying to chase after Hitler to avenge your family perished in the Holocaust is not worth it; move on, already. The audacity it takes to reverberate this mockery to thousands of readers worldwide makes me want to shout, which is why I’m writing this review.

“The world needed to be reminded that monsters were still at large.”  x

I still can’t wrap my head around this ridicule. How can someone write such an intensely sensitive piece of writing just a few pages ago, only to now write about Hitler through manipulatively hidden clues to make us actually feel sorry for him in the end? This warped mindset, especially from a Jew whose parents are survivors, gave me heebie-jeebies.

It’s textbook Stockholm syndrome that makes victims want to grow close into the confines of the enemy as a defense mechanism, so that in another lifetime they won’t be abolished: Keret’s ending came across as “if I show Hitler (imah shmo) in an emphatic light then surely he wouldn’t have hunted down and annihilated my nation.” It’s the same syndrome that led another Israeli-Jew to recklessly exhibit Hitler’s paintings at Haifa’s gallery ‘Pyramida’, which is funded by the Ministry of Education, aka making tax-paying Israeli-Jews (which, incidentally, homes more or less 200,000 Holocaust survivors) pay for showing the devil’s work.

The way these syndrome victims move on is to befriend the enemy and forgo all moral values in the process, and it’s a powerful statement to the horrors of Stockholm syndrome. If you find something (a painting, a book, a statue) more important than human morality, it’s a sign that you’re taking a part in this virus; when brilliancy trumps harmfulness to society, you’re in danger.

Another point that hit me repeatedly throughout the collection was the author’s quite obvious need to appeal to the masses and acquire more international readers by presenting numerous stories set in the West to make it easier for his translators to adapt. I’m pretty sure that the only readers that care to repeatedly venture into his work are either Jews, Israelis, or both… so I personally would’ve appreciated stories that remained close to his roots since those are where he shines best.

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils star (What even were the redeeming qualities? Scrolls back to first paragraph

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