Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review of the Day: Good for the Jews



Good for the Jews is a spirited, engaging novel set in the high school academic world of Madison, Wisconsin. When the charming – sometimes floundering – heroine, Ellen Hirschorn, becomes romantically involved with a much older man, she uses her new connections to help her guardian figure out whether he is the target of anti-Semitism.

Spark presents an alluring cast of characters, each complete with enough quirks and foibles to make them absolutely realistic, if not entirely lovable. Spark does not shy away from showing the mixed-up muddle of people -- their thinking, their actions, or their politics.

Lines such as "The anti-Semitism of the left. If you're going to see it anywhere, I guess it would be here in Madison" demonstrate Spark's sharp eye for ironic contradictions.  Nothing is black and white and none of her characters are totally sympathetic or unsympathetic.

The ending is a little rushed, which is all the more disappointing because the rest of the book is so enjoyable. But Good for the Jews is still a great story with a lot more going on than in a typical novel of modern day manners.


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