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Second Hand Lives

What does a daughter think when she finds out her father has had another life which he hid from his family for years? Daphna, the daughter, in her 20s, does not blame her father, and perhaps even identifies with him, for she also has another life of which her husband has no knowledge. Esty Hayim’s rich novel is about more than a father-daughter relationship and their separate lives. It is about both generations in Israeli society: the parent generation, immigrant Holocaust survivors who established the State of Israel and built their homes there, and the children who seek their fortunes in distant lands and live as immigrants in foreign countries. Daphna lives in the U.S. with her husband Paul and dreams of a career in modern dance.

After three years of marriage she meets and starts an affair with a married man. One day Daphna’s brother calls from Israel. Their father has disappeared, and Daphna leaves for Israel immediately and begins searching for him. But there is no trace of her missing father. Instead Daphna finds his memoirs, which she begins reading, and her father’s entire life opens up before her — a life she knew almost nothing about.

These memoirs and the story of the past are intertwined with the present, weaving intriguing tensions between the two story lines. Latzi Lieman was a high school student when the Germans invaded Hungary. He, along with thousands of other refugees, spent time in a transit camp when the war ended. It was there he met and fell in love with the beautiful and vivacious Rosie. On the way to Israel they lost each other. Latzi arrived in Israel with his parents, married a young girl who was also a Holocaust survivor and they had two children. Nineteen years later Latzie meets Rosie by chance and they renew their love. The affair ends only when Rosie discovers that she has cancer. Rosie dies, followed a few years later by Latzi’s wife, who had suffered from depression for years. Nothing ties him to his home. Daphna wonders if he has left on a trip around the world. Is he also running from Israel to distant lands?

Title Second Hand Lives
Writer's Last Name G. Hayim
Writer's First Name Esty
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
No. Pages 263pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Chayeinu Ha-Shniyim