FICTION

River

Guernica. Apr. 2020. 285p. ISBN 9781771834575. pap. $25. F
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Time travel underlies this excellent YA/adult crossover novel, with 14-year-old Emily returning to previous eras to visit her mother, grandmother, and great grandmother—all at her age—as she sojourns in 1974 Australia, 1943 South Africa, and 1905 Lithuania, then continues on to ancient Babylon for deeper spiritual understanding. Along the way, she experiences the horrors of religious persecution, racial hatred, and poverty as well as the joys of family gatherings and the giddiness of falling in love. Each encounter is an act of self-discovery, of reclaiming her soul, even as Emily learns more about her Jewish heritage and comes to appreciate fully the meaning of home. Together, these encounters shape her into the young woman who emerges at the end of this tremendous adventure.
VERDICT Eloquent and polished, with characters who breathe and speak as if they are in the same room as the reader, this fourth novel by Nayman (A Mind of Winter) would be a valuable choice for teen Jewish studies as well as for YA and adult book discussion groups. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/7/19.]

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