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You, Who Live So Beautifully

You, Who Live So Beautifully is a sweeping, wild novel that relates the tale of a young family in a poor suburb of Tel Aviv. It begins in the late 1980s when the father, Kika Weinstein, a charming conman with a captivating personality who got entangled in lies but still harbors dreams of getting rich quick, flees the country. Leaving his wife Miriam and children Ilsa and Assi with promises to “fix them up with a new life,” he heads to England and then vanishes, leaving behind only debts and a family that is falling apart. Kika is a pro at making promises and building castles in the air, but disappoints everyone around him again and again, robs them of their money and leaves them penniless.

The novel moves back and forth in time and space, reveals a web of false identities and wanderings, as well as a suffering branch of the family tree that sprang from Kika’s mother. She lost her family in the Holocaust and was keen to get rid of her infant son by placing him in an orphanage. Years later, after Kika abandons the family he has built, his daughter Ilsa – the main narrator –  must grow up prematurely and deal with her disrupted world, including her dysfunctional mother, who gets together with random men only to be disappointed by them later. Ilsa has an ambivalent attitude towards her father: She too, like the others, is entrapped by his charms and she interprets the family’s story as a fatal, predestined collapse. Three years after he left them, she and her brother meet their father in New York and realize that he hasn’t changed. But the renewed acquaintance with his magnetic personality forces Ilsa to face up to the destructive and dark elements that are imprinted in her as well. At 18, she becomes a fashion model. Pretty, malevolent and lost, she wants to taste the good life and is not deterred by any risks or dubious escapades.

Title You, Who Live So Beautifully
Writer's Last Name Peer
Writer's First Name Michal
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Achuzat Bayit
No. Pages 282pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Atem, She-Chayim Yafeh Kol Kach
  • “The language of the novel has a remarkable effect, achieved in the very name of the book: Not only do its characters stay with you after you’ve read it, but also their music; the rhythm of the speech and of the dream, of their interaction with the world, continues to reverberate in the ear days after the book has been closed and put on the shelf … The four parts of the novel … are constructed with great skill and brilliance. ”

    Chen Shtrass, Haaretz
  • “ You, Who Live So Beautifully is a most impressive literary achievement, both as a first book and in general.”

    Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “ More than anything else, You, Who Live So Beautifully honestly tackles the problem of the disintegration of the family (and not just any family, but one from the lower class, far less glamorous than other families in literature) into a million pieces, and it does so with very few clichés ... The story flows along naturally and it makes for a pleasant read. ”

    Nimrod Ofran, Walla
  • “ A very impressive first novel … One may wager that Peer is at the outset of a literary career that will gain much attention from both critics and readers … She writes excellently. She knows how to tell a story, and she does with a combination of wild humor, great sensitivity, and poetic precision.”