Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Review: More Than I Love My Life, by David Grossman


More Than I Love My Life, by David Grossman. Knopf, 2021. Translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen.

David Grossman is one of my favorite writers; any time he has a new book, I'm in, and I've been working my way through his backlist too. I first read him for a book club I lead for a temple library job; that book was Someone to Run With and I've been a fan ever since. This book centers on three women- Vera, her troubled daughter Nina, and Nina's angry daughter Gili. Vera escaped from Yugoslavia with Nina to Israel and married again after her first husband, her beloved Milosz, died during the war. Gili is a filmmaker and along with her father Rafael, Vera's stepson, the three women journey back to the now former Yugoslavia to learn the truth about their family.

I found Gili to be a singularly unlikable narrator but her personality is convincingly formed by the trauma she was subjected to by her even more traumatized mother. The book is partly about intergenerational trauma, the way that pain is passed from mother to daughter to daughter and the way to heal it. It's also about creating and recording history, the benefits and drawbacks of uncovering family secrets and the redemptive power of love.

I didn't get into this book until about halfway through; Grossman draws his women vividly but it did take a minute for the plot to get going, and I am a plot reader. This is a quiet story, albeit one with a violent storm at its center, about forgiveness and growth and moving forward not despite the pain but with it. It's a small story with a big heart and I recommend it to readers of literary fiction and character-driven stories.

I did not receive this book for review.

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