“A Mesmerizing Narrative” — and a Starred Review

Author: Ben Nadler

August 14, 2015

“When Izzy Edel receives an enigmatic postcard from Alojzy, the father with whom he has not communicated in several years, his young wasted life immediately takes on purpose. Expelled from college, Izzy heads for New York City to find Alojzy. There are no answers as to his father’s whereabouts, but Izzy takes over his father’s business selling books on the street. He becomes involved with gangsters who may have worked with his father. He also rescues Rayna, a young woman who has fled her Hasidic home and is living on the streets. For Izzy, life becomes extremely complicated as no one he meets is actually who he seems to be; and the questions about Alojzy’s disappearance and Rayna’s existence become even more mysterious. VERDICT In his second novel (after Harvitz, As to War) Nadler has crafted a New York hustler coming-of-age tale in which his protagonist’s life mirrors that of a yeshiva student, then the hero of a pulp novel about the Mafia, and finally the biblical patriarch Isaac. The interweaving of Izzy’s search with Hasidic tales and the realities of life on the streets results in a mesmerizing narrative that will speak to any readers who have tried to make sense of their parents’ lives or the secrets that people keep.”

Review by Andrea Kempf, formerly with Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS, for Library Journal (starred review)