FICTION

Pain

Other Pr. Nov. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9781590510926. pap. $17.99; ebk. ISBN 9781590510780. F
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Injured in a terrorist bombing ten years earlier, Iris, a school principal living in Jerusalem, finds her chronic pain returning just as she’s feeling alienated from her family. Her marriage has grown stale, her daughter, Alma, has moved to Tel Aviv, and her son will soon be inducted into the army. A search for relief from her pain leads her to a chance meeting with her first love, Eitan, and she rushes headlong into an affair. When Alma’s problems encroach on her idyllic romance, can Iris remain true to her revived younger self and still help her daughter and perhaps heal her family? Anyone picking up a book titled Pain should expect a fair amount of anguish, and the book has little joy or levity. Even the headiness of the affair is shadowed by Iris’s despair over her family troubles and regrets over losing the years she could have had with Eitan if they hadn’t parted when they were young.
VERDICT Essentially a midlife crisis novel with a lot of meditation over choice and chance and how they impact what follows, this story by Shalev (The Remains of Love) effectively depicts contemporary Israeli life but is a bit of a downer.

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