Tuesday, February 19, 2008

With all my heart and with all my soul, A Book Review

I read this book a while ago, called, "With All My Heart And With All My Soul" by B.D. Da'ehu.
(Bechol derachecha da'ehu, get it?)
Anyway, it wasn't published by Feldheim, so that was the first sign it might actually be good. You might not believe it, but there was no Middle East involved, and no threatening messages on answering machines by people with thick Arabic accents.
It was about this frum guy in a Lakewood type yeshiva who went a few times a week to Princeton for graduate school. He falls in love with a 19-year-old shiksah (I hope that term is not derogatory. If it is and it offends you or another gentile woman you know, comment and I'll change it. Ok?).
If you can't see the plot yet, they can't marry since she's not Jewish, and she cannot convert since she cannot force herself to believe in principles of the Jewish faith.
They are both super-intelligent geniuses. Which makes the book so darn annoying.
I mean, I don't even know what the heck existentialism is!!!! Do you? Does anyone?
The author is the father of a teacher in Ner Yisroel, so I've heard.
Since the characters are so philosophical, I had to skip or skim huge paragraphs that I either didn't understand or didn't care about. I hate when authors do that. Let me give you an example about what I mean. Here's a typical scene from the book:
She saw him in his usual spot, leaning back in his chair, legs out, his yarmulke covering part of his eyes, and he was staring up at the ceiling, deep in thought. She came over and sat down opposite him. "Earth to Josh," she said. He blinked and looked at her. She propped her elbow on the table, leaned her head on her hand, and asked, "So tell me about existentialism." He smiled, and started to speak: "Existentialism is....."
Do you see what I mean? I wasn't quoting from the book, but that scene appears like twenty times. And then Josh would just drone on about some philosophical topic. It seems to me that the author had some great essay ideas, but instead of writing them up individually, he just stuck them into a story. Why do that? It made the book so annoying to read!!
Another book that did that was "1984", by George Orwell. The main character got his hands on a secret book about how to take down the Big Brother government. So a scene would be:
and the main character opened the book and began reading:..........................
And it would go on for pages and pages, all boring analytical essays about governments, which the main character was reading from a book, in the book "1984". I hope that didn't confuse you.
Another thing I didn't like was how the author kept having the girl(Chris, if I remember correctly) say over and over again, "I love you, Josh, with all my heart and with all my soul!" This was said twenty five times! We get it, B. D. Da'ehu, we get it. It's the title of your book. Yeah, we're not stupid.
Overall, the book was not bad, and you might enjoy it. I won't ruin it by telling you if any characters die or whatever. The ending is obviously one of two options: they get together or they don't.
He was supposed to make a sequel, though, 15 years ago, so if that is any indication that some main characters might live, then you can take it as so. But there is no sequel yet.
For my personal opinion on the book: It was pretty good. I felt that most of their feelings were true and brought out well. I do think that it is a stretch though when the characters both are like: "I know that nobody else is out there for me, that you are the only I can marry, and if I can't marry you, I'll end up marrying nobody." That doesn't seem possible for anyone to think, especially about somebody not Jewish. We each have our Bashert, and she is most definately Jewish.