Sunday, 11 October 2020

Blog Tour Book Review: How to Make a Life by Florence Reiss Kraut

How to Make a Life
by
Florence Reiss Kraut

 

 
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 13th October 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of Smith Publicity Services 
 
About the book
 
When Ida and her daughter Bessie flee a catastrophic pogrom in Ukraine for America in 1905, they believe their emigration will ensure that their children and grandchildren will be safe from harm. But choices and decisions made by one generation have ripple effects on those who come later—and in the decades that follow, family secrets, betrayals, and mistakes made in the name of love threaten the survival of the family: Bessie and Abe Weissman’s children struggle with the shattering effects of daughter Ruby’s mental illness, of Jenny’s love affair with her brother-in-law, of the disappearance of Ruby’s daughter as she flees her mother’s legacy, and of the accidental deaths of Irene’s husband and granddaughter.
 
My review
 

How to Make a Life is an enthralling saga of a family both brought together and divided by the mental illness of one member.

Spanning four generations of the Amdur/Weissman family, the story is narrated through different members of the family over the years, highlighting their ever changing relationships with each other.

How to Make a Life begins with Ida fleeing a massacre on their land in Ukraine and taking her two surviving children to America to start a new life safe from persecution. Life is tough and there is more tragedy in store but Ida and daughter Bessie know to survive they must always look ahead.

How to Make a Life spans 106 years and to squeeze this amount into one book it quite often skips large spans of time, so you might suddenly find out a character’s husband had died some time ago and there was no previous mention. This made for a lot of telling the story and I would have liked the story to be longer to include all these momentous events in detail.

How to Make a Life is a fast-moving story filled with emotion and plenty of family drama. I became totally invested in all the characters lives and their hopes, fears and dreams.

Florence Reiss Kraut includes many themes in this generational drama including unplanned pregnancies, mental illness, unrequited love, loss, guilt, family responsibility, holding onto your faith and how the choices we make can have a ripple affect through the generations.  

 

About the author

Photo Goodreads
Florence Reiss Kraut was raised and educated in New York City. With a BA in English and a Masters in Social Work she worked for over thirty years as a clinician, a family therapist and eventually CEO of a family service agency before retiring to write and travel. Her own close family of 26 aunts and uncles and 27 first cousins and listening to stories around the kitchen table, coffee klatches and family parties inspired her to write her fictional, multi-generational family drama, How to Make a Life.

She has published stories for children and teens, romance stories for national magazines, literary stories, and personal essays for the Westchester section of the New York Times. Her fiction has appeared in publications such as The Evening Street Press and SNReview.
 

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