Jewish Values: Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World, The

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240 p.
The Nazis were quick to accuse everyone and everything but themselves of degeneracy, including modern art and music, which they termed “entartete” or “degenerate.” Artists, often Jewish, who fell into this category included Modigliani, Picasso, and Chagall, Berg, Hindemith, and Schoenberg. What does this have to do with a novel for younger teens set in modern day Florida? It is a pivotal element in the plot about an edgy friendship between two adolescent boys and their discovery of a lost – or stolen – painting. The plot is complex and the characterization is even more so, with several eccentric adults playing important roles. As with most of the books by this highly talented writer, much is suggested and less is revealed directly, involving readers in a process of discovery as quirky and as challenging as the one that Amadeo and Will embark upon when they help Will’s mother dispose of the belongings of an ex-opera singer who is moving from her decaying mansion to a housing complex for the elderly. The Jewish content is rather slight but it is an integral part of the story. As for the enigmatic title, it refers to the hidden aspects of human nature that give people their flaws, their depth of character, and their potential for rising, sometimes, to heroic heights. Read it with joy for its author’s intelligence and literary imagination, as well as for her ability to explore profound truths with verve.
13: 978-1-4169-4972-0; 10: 1-4169-4972-0
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