Jewish Values: Blood Secret

Publication Year: 
Number of Pages: 
249 p.
Mute since she was five, when her hippie mother abandoned her, Jerry has been sent by Catholic Charities to live with her elderly great-great aunt in rural New Mexico. When she discovers a trunk in the basement filled with very old family relics, Jerry is able to time travel back to fourteenth century Spain, where the blood secret that her family has kept for over six hundred years began. Through her experiences in the past at various times in the tragic saga of Spanish Jewry, Jerry begins to understand why her aunt, a practicing Catholic, lights candles on Friday nights, doesn't mix milk with meat, and throws pieces of dough into the oven before she bakes bread. Her new awareness of her Jewish heritage and the understanding that grows between teenage Jerry and ninety year old Aunt Costanza give her the courage to speak and to engage with life once again. Lasky's grasp of this complicated material is deft. Each of the many characters speaks in a distinctive voice that helps to establish both setting and personality. The plot is complex and suspenseful, with the past and present woven together flawlessly. Some gruesome scenes of burnings are juxtaposed with lyrical descriptions of the New Mexican countryside. All in all, one of an accomplished writer's most accomplished novels.
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