Sunday, July 26, 2009

Snapshot Book Review: You or Someone Like You

You or Someone Like You You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Burr does a phenomenal job of appealing to readers of all types: those who enjoy easy-read, name-dropping, fast-talking high-profiles-in-busy-cities sort of novels (by putting Howard in the upper echelon of the movie industry in--where else?--LA); those who enjoy books seasoned with literature references (by making both Howard and Anne literature professors and by creating a family dynamic by which these characters communicate with each other and with their son via these references); and those who are seeking insight into cultural and religious institutions (by tackling the subject of Jewish identity). Moreover, the style of the writing is not such that it would put off any one reader, and so each type is drawn into the other two threads of the story almost without choice.The case concerning Jewish identity is one I can relate to, being born of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. Yet, I have never considered the potential for this as a basis for struggle or even division. It is one of those matters I have glossed over in my life, perhaps always feeling something was a bit amiss but pushing it to the side, since I know that--being born of a non-Jewish mother--I am not technically Jewish and therefore do not need to know much more than how to answer the question that inevitably comes when someone learns my last name: "you're jewish, right?"

This is a brave novel, as it addresses a subject that will undoubtedly draw criticism and hateful reactions. Just as Anne's character attests, however, literature is meant to show us realities we do not want to face, and that is why so much of the greatest literature was hated in its day. This novel will certainly be hated by some. For my part, I will recommend it to those who I believe can approach the question with open minds and open hearts--and perhaps a love of literature, as well.

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