Wednesday, April 7, 2010
A Diamond in the Rough
Author: Esther Rapaport
Publisher: Israel Bookshop Publications
This book has a great idea behind it: A bitter, divorced man living alone is thrown into a situation where he hosts two boys who have no home at the time. Both he and the boys gain from the relationship, and they all grow emotionally and heal some emotional wounds. This relationship is portrayed very nicely in the book. We get to see both Shlomo (the divorced man) and Alex (the older of the two boys) at first very set in their ways, and we see how they slowly influence each others' lives.
That is just about the only good point in this book.
As for the rest of it:
All the other characters are flat. Even these two characters and Mulik, the younger brother, although they are sort of developed, really only show one facet of their personalities and backgrounds. The main problem, I think, is that the author seems to identify the characters in her own mind as "the bossy one," "the critical one," etc., and each character sticks to one trait throughout the book. It gets annoying to read page after page of Shlomo's older brother saying the same nasty things, never saying anything other than a snide comment. Full characterization is definitely lacking.
Besides for that, the basic idea of these two lost individuals influencing each others' lives is great, but when you throw in the relationships between Shlomo's siblings and a botched terrorist attempt in Russia, the whole thing turns into a joke. The terrorist plot-line is extremely poorly researched. I don't know much about how terrorists go about making plans, but I know it doesn't happen within a week, and that the chances of them making all the mistakes they made are not very probable. This plot-line ties in with one about the boys' father, and the utter coincidence of these events strains credibility to the breaking point. And when the climax occurs, it's not like climbing to the top of a mountain and reaching the crest - it's like simply fitting the last puzzle piece into the big picture.
And - to top it all off - the story doesn't really end! Sure, Shlomo and Alex both move forward, but nothing actually happens! I don't believe that every story has to tie up all loose ends and everyone live happily ever after, but a little closure and some end would be nice.
Had the author not tried to make this a thrilling novel and just stuck with the main plot-line and developed that fully, I think this whole book would have been much more interesting and enjoyable.