The titles listed below, ordered by the author’s last name, are available free of charge to Bay Area book groups through the Jewish Community Library’s Book Club in a Box program. Click on the title for a link to a description, reviews, articles, discussion questions, and other resources. A pdf listing all of the titles with descriptions may be downloaded here. You can also find a listing of the eBooks that may be borrowed by your book group here. Contact us for more information.

Shulem Deen: All Who Go Do Not Return

(Memoir, 288 pp. 2015) The author reflects on growing up in, and leaving, New York’s Skverer Hasidic community—an escape that ultimately results in his separation from his wife and children. Kirkus Review Review by Ezra Glinter, The New Republic, March 18, 2015 Review by Jay Michaelson, Religion News Service, March 17, 2015 Jenni Frazer interviews Shulem Deen, The Guardian., June 10, 2017. Interview with Shulem Deen, Jewish Standard , June 8, 2015 Shulem Deen at London Jewish Book Week, February 26, 2015(60 min., video) Interview in Yiddish with Shulem Deen, April 6, 2015, Forverts(17 min., video)

Marra Gad: The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

Memoir, 256 pp. 2019 Gad reflects on her experiences as an American biracial Jew. Much of the focus is on her caring for her racist great-aunt, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Invoking the Hebrew word yerusha (inheritance), this memoir explores the inheritance of identity, disease, melanin, hate, and love. Kirkus Review Review by Ada Brunstein, Jewish Book Council, February 3, 2020 Review by Raphael Magarik, JewSchool, November 19, 2019 Review by Rivkah Lambert Adler, Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2020 Kate Bigam Kaput interviews Marra Gad, Reform Judaism., December 4, 2019. Judy Bolton-Fasman interviews Marra Gad, Jewish Boston , January 6, 2020 Brenda Madden interviews Marra Gad (28 min. video)

James McBride: The Color of Water

Memoir, 256 pp. 1995 Ruth McBride Jordan narrates the hardships she overcame as a Polish Jewish immigrant in rural Virginia who chose to marry a black man in 1942 and convert to Christianity. Her account is interspersed in alternating chapters with her son’s struggle to discover his mother’s past and develop his own identity. Discussion Questions Kirkus Review Reviewby H. Jack Geiger, New York Times, March 31, 1996 John Bersia interviews James McBride, Global Perspectives, May 16, 2012 (15 min. video)

Fran Ross: Oreo

(Fiction, 212 pp. 1974) This picaresque novel, deemed ahead of its time and now considered a cult classic, satirically chronicles the adventures of a young woman born to a black mother, in her quest to find her Jewish father in New York City. The myth of Theseus is updated, using a mix of vernacular dialects, bilingual and ethnic humor, inside jokes, neologisms, verbal quirks, and linguistic oddities. Kirkus Review Review by Dwight Garner, New York Times, July 14, 2015 Review by Edwin Turner, Biblioklept, July 26, 2020 Review by Mat Johnson, National Public Radio, March 9, 2011 Review by Danzy Senna, The New Yorker, May 7, 2015 Review by Marlon James, The Guardian, July 7, 2018 Article about Fran Ross by Scott Saul, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 22, 2019

Rachel Biale: Growing Up Below Sea Level: A Kibbutz Childhood

(Memoir, 256 pp. 2020) Biale’s memoir is composed of linked stories about growing up on Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin in Israel’s Jezreel Valley in the 1950s and 60s, when children spent most of their time living apart from their parents in a Children’s House. Review by Jonathan Kirsch, J: The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California, April 21, 2020 Review by Aaron Leibel, Washington Jewish Week, May 12, 2020 Interview with Rachel Biale by Judy Bolton-Fasman, Jewish Boston, June 30, 2020 Radio Interview with Rachel Biale, Talk Radio Europe, May 29, 2020 Zoom program with Rachel Biale and Sue Fishkoff, Jewish Community Library, May 24, 2020

Nicole Krauss: Forest Dark

(Fiction, 304 pp. 2017) This hybrid work of fiction, memoir and literary criticism alternates between two distinct stories about two Americans who travel to Tel Aviv searching for something they cannot articulate: a New York lawyer named Epstein in the final stages of giving away his fortune; a critically acclaimed American novelist named Nicole, suffering a mixture of writer’s block, insomnia and restlessness. Kirkus Review Review from Jewish Women’s Archive Review by Maron L. Waxman, Jewish Book Council Review by Emily St John Mandel, The Guardian, August 18, 2017 Review by Anna E. Clark, Los Angeles Review of Books, September 19, 2017 Review by Ron Charles, Washington Post, September 12, 2017 Review by Peter Orner, New York Times, September 12, 2017 Alex Dueben interviews Nicole Krauss, The Rumpus, September 25, 2017

Mark Sarvas: Memento Park

When a veteran Hollywood character actor gets a call about a painting allegedly looted from his family by Nazis in 1944 Budapest, his life is thrown into personal, professional, and spiritual turmoil. Of the many questions asked — about family and identity, about art and history—a central, unanswerable predicament lingers: How do we move forward when the past looms unreasonably large? Reading Group Guidefrom Macmillan Kirkus review, March 13, 2018 Review by Adam Kirsch, Washington Post, March 8, 2018 Review by Heller McAlpin, NPR, March 14, 2018 Review by Ellen Umansky, New York Times, May 5, 2018 Review by Ingrid Vega, Zyzzyva, May 15, 2018 Profile by Agatha French, Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2018 About Mark Sarvas

Gary Shteygart: Lake Success

(Fiction, 352 p. 2018) A hedge fund manager on the skids takes a cross-country bus trip to reconnect with his college girlfriend, leaving his wife to deal with their autistic 3-year-old in this smart, fundamentally warm-hearted, satiric novel. Discussion Questions from LitLovers Kirkus Review, September 4, 2018 Review by Dwight Garner, New York Times, August 27, 2018 Review by Ron Charles, Washington Post, August 28, 2018 Review by Bob Goldfarb, Jewish Book Council Joe Fassler interviews Gary Shteyngart, The Atlantic Emma Brockes interviews Gary Shteyngart, The Guardian, September 7, 2018 Gary Shteyngart reads from Lake Success (46 min. video):

Yossi Klein Halevi: Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

(Nonfiction, 224 p. 2018) A series of letters to an imagined Palestinian neighbor that include both concise histories—of such topics as the history of modern Zionism and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—and Halevi’s own memories of growing up an American Jew afraid that Israel would be destroyed in 1967, moving to Israel, and how his romance with the settlement movement ended. Discussion resources from Shalom Hartman Institute Kirkus Review Review by Liel Leibovitz, Tablet Magazine, May 4, 2018 Review by Anna Porter, The Globe and Mail, May 15, 2018 Review by Daphne Merkin, Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2018 (paywall may block access) Review by Brian Stewart, National Review, July 7, 2018 Review by Raja Shehadeh, New York Times, August 24, 2018 Review by Philip Graubart, The Forward, June 23, 2018 Rachel Martin interviews Yossi Klein Halevi, NPR, June 28, 2018 (6:41 audio and transcript)

Michael David Lukas: The Oracle of Stamboul

(Fiction, 304 p. 2011) Set in the heart of the Ottoman Empire during the first years of its chaotic decline, this debut novel follows a gifted young girl who dares to charm a sultan—and change the course of history. As the sultan’s interest in her grows, so, too, does her reputation and importance, thoughEleonora is unsure if her new role is what she wants from life. Book discussion guide (by Reading Circle) Book discussion guide (Jewish Book Council) Kirkus Review Review by Jane Ciabattari, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2011 Review by Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., Jewish Book Council Review by James Hynes, New York Times, February 27, 2011. Martha Woodroof profiles Michael David Lukas, NPR, March 1, 2011 Michael Krasny interviews Michael David Lukas, April 25, 2012 (58 min, video)

Ilana Kurshan: If All the Seas Were Ink

(Memoir, 320 p. 2017) At the age of 27, alone in Jerusalem in the wake of a painful divorce, Kurshan adopted the practice of daf yomi: reading a page a day of the Talmud. Undaunted by the idea that it would take more than seven years to complete the full text on Jewish law, she adapted to its pace, attuned her ear to its poetry, and discovered her passions in its pages. Study Guide from Ilana Kurhsan Kirkus Review Review by Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, lehrhaus.com Review by Sarah Rindner, Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2017 Ilana Kurshan (2.5 min. video)

Anna Solomon: Leaving Lucy Pear

(Fiction, 336 pp. 2016) The lives of an abandoned girl’s biological mother—a privileged Jewish pianist—and adoptive mother—a dirt-poor Irish Catholic woman—are juxtaposed with that of their little girl’s. Set on the New England coast in the 1920s, the novel investigates class, freedom, gender and the meaning of family. Reader’s Guidefrom Penguin Random House Kirkus Review Reviewby Maggie Shipstead, New York Times, August 7, 2016. Reviewby Renita Last, Jewish Book Council Review by David Cooper, New York Journal of Books

Arthur Miller: Focus

(Fiction, 240 p. 1945) A reticent personnel manager living with his mother shares the prejudices of his times and of his neighbors, until he begins wearing glasses, and others begin to mistake him for a Jew. Miller’s only novel investigates the insidious effects of increasing anti-Semitism in New York in 1945. Kirkus Review Review by Charles Poore, New York Times, November 24, 1945 Review by Evelyn Sheffner, Commentary Magazine, February 1, 1946 Arthur Miller’s Focus by Ami Eden, excerpted and reprinted from “A World in WhichEverything Hurts” published in the Forward (July 30, 2004).

Jennifer S. Brown: Modern Girls

(Fiction, 384 pp. 2016) As an immigrant mother and her modern girl daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices in 1935 New York, they are forced to confront their beliefs, the changing world, and the fact that their lives will never again be the same. Discussion questions from Penguin Random House Kirkus Review Review by Sophie Siegel, Jewish Book Council Review by David Cooper, New York Journal of Books Hannah N. Neier interviews Jennifer S. Brown, Lilith blog, April 5, 2016 Author profile

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen: Waking Lions

(Fiction, 352 p. Hebrew, 2014 ; English Translation, 2017) After one night’s deadly mistake, a man will go to any lengths to save his family and his reputation in this gripping, suspenseful, and morally devastating drama of guilt and survival, shame and desire. Kirkus Review Review by Ayelet Tsabari, New York Times, March 15, 2017 Review by Maureen Corrigan, NPR, March 1 2017 Review by Suri Boiangiu, Jewish Book Council Review by Ruth Gilligan, Guardian, March 30, 2016 Review by Adam Kirsch, Tablet, February 22, 2017 Review by David Cooper, New York Journal of Books  JP O’ Malley interviews Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Times of Israel, May 2017 Video of Gundar-Goshen discussing Waking Lions, June 2018

Alice Hoffman: The World That We Knew

(Fiction, 284 pages, 2019) Set in Germany and France in the 1940s, a young Lea Kohn finds her way to a renowned rabbi whose daughter, Ettie, creates a mystical golem to protect Lea in her escape to France. The three become enternally entwined in this tale of the power of resistance, perseverance and enduring love in dark times. Reading group guide from Simon and Schuster Review by Mary Pols, New York Times, September 24, 2019 Review By Nancy Pate, Star Tribune, September 13, 2019 Kirkus Review Alice Hoffman shares what inspired her to write the novel (2:00 min.video)

Edith Pearlman: Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories

(Short stories, 375 pp. 2011) Spanning four decades and three prize-winning collections, these selected stories continue Edith Pearlman’s favorite theme of accommodation, as well as young love, old love, thwarted love, and love denied; of Jews and their dilemmas; of marriage, family, death, and betrayal. The settings are Maine, Central America, Hungary, Tsarist Russia, and the fictional town of Godolphin, Massachusetts. These locales, and the lives of the endlessly varied characters within them, are evoked with tenderness and incisiveness. Kirkus Review Review by  Marcela Valdes, Washington Post, November 4, 2011 Review by Mark Lawson, The Guardian, February 28, 2013 Review by Leah Hager Cohen, Boston Globe, April 10, 2012 Review by Roxana Robinson, New York Times, January 16, 2011

Elizabeth Poliner: As Close to Us as Breathing

(Fiction, 368 p. 2016) A multigenerational family saga about the long lasting reverberations when a terrible accident transforms a summer of hope and self discovery into a lifetime of atonement and loss for members of this close knit clan. Discussion Questions from Elizabeth Poliner Kirkus Review Review by Eli Gottlieb, New York Times, March 25, 2016 Review by Philip K. Jason, Jewish Book Council Review by Heller McAlpin, NPR, March 15, 2016 Review by Adam Kirsch, Tablet Magazine, March 10, 2016

Dorit Rabinyan: All the Rivers

(Fiction, 288 p. Hebrew 2014 ; English translation 2017) This controversial novel, boldly portraying the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us. Discussion Questions from Jewish Women’s Archive Review by Steven G. Kellman, The Forward, May 9, 2017 ”The Day Israel Banned My Book From Schools” by Dorit Rabinyan, Time Magazine, Apr 27, 2017 Article by Ian Fisher, New York Times, May 3, 2017 Peter Beaumont interviews Dorit Rabinyan, The Guardian, April 8, 2017 Video (2 min.)

Danya Ruttenberg: Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting

(Nonfiction, 320 p. 2016) Rooted in Judaism and incorporating a wide-range of religious and literary traditions, this bookshows how seeing parenting as a spiritual practice can lead to transformation. Discussion guide from Flatiron Books Review by Judy Batalion, Jewish Book Council Review by Naomi M. Gruer, Hadassah Magazine, October 2016 Danielle Leshaw interviews Danya Ruttenberg, Mutha Magazine, July 2017 Review by Dasee Berkowitz, The Forward, June 15

Ruth Sohn: Crossing Cairo: A Jewish Woman’s Encounter with Egypt

(Memoir, 272 p. 2013) Advised not to disclose their Jewish identity, the Rabbi and her family first hide, then share their secret, discovering whether it is possible to cross the barriers of language, culture, and religion to form real friendships and find a home among Egyptians. Discussion guide Video presentation with Ruth Sohn About Ruth Sohn