This is the story of two rebellious and fascinating women, Naomi and her cousin Gabi. When they first meet after not seeing each other for years, they discover how their similar emotional makeups have turned them both into the family black sheep.
Naomi flies from Israel to Berlin to meet Gabi, her ultra-Orthodox father`s "free-thinking" sister who has little time left to live. At the Berlin Jewish old age home, Gabi tells her niece the story of her life, which began in Budapest. At the age of 16, while ice-skating, she met a young man who walked her home. The event emphasizes the deep chasm that separated Gabi from her Jewish Orthodox family. From this point on, her life turns into a compelling journey full of ups and downs, three husbands, one son, four countries and a clandestine love. Naomi`s own story is told alongside the main story, and slowly develops and increases in power. She has left the world of the ultra-Orthodox, and has left her husband and her sons. Her new world is complex, and she grapples with motherhood and femininity, with family values and love which opposes the norms she has been raised to accept. Naomi and Gabi meet in the shadow of death, but the meeting bursts with vitality, intimacy and acceptance of the unresolved conflicts. A few months after Naomi returns to Israel she receives a letter from Bobby, Gabi`s son, telling of his mother’s death. Bobby tells the story of his mother`s life from his own perspective, of how she followed her third husband to Berlin, deserting him along the way. Despite what has transpired, Bobby concludes that she was the best mother a child could wish for.
Rotem knows the world of the ultra-Orthodox well...[opening it up] for anyone who wishes to delve into it.
Judith Rotem has proved herself to be an important and interesting writer...Her rich, colorful descriptions and her clever metaphors... endow her novel with something of the old quality of world literature at its best.