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Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love (Jewish Women Writers) Paperback – May 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Rivi Shenhar returns to Israel for a funeral, she unearths a collection of her childhood diaries kept decades before. Addressed to Anne Frank, her old diaries chronicle Rivi’s impassioned and intense coming-of-age. Rivi grows up in mid-1970s rural Israel, living with her mother, a critical and vacant woman, after her parents divorce. Though largely isolated by her peers and superiors, 14-year-old Rivi is intellectually and emotionally inquisitive, and she finds solace in a budding relationship with her literature teacher, Michaela, who is engaged to be married. This relationship soon evolves into an illicit, passionate affair that lasts for years, providing Rivi and Michaela with the love and companionship they crave. Katzir’s prose is evocative, at times furiously erotic, as Rivi archives her progression from insecure teenager into a self-assured woman. The story is most affecting in the moments of internal reflection from an adult Rivi, later a mother and accomplished author, and in the raw emotion she rediscovers within the narratives of her adolescent self. --Leah Strauss

Review

"I read this book with wonder and emotion. The love between Michaela and Rivi is depicted precisely and delicately. . . . It's beautiful."
Amos Oz

"[An] impassioned and intense coming-of-age. . . . Katzir's prose is evocative, at times furiously erotic, as Rivi archives her progression from insecure teenager into a self-assured woman."
Booklist

"The power of unconditional love fuels Rivi's development into a confident young woman, a development Katzir telescopes nicely in the book's finale."
Publishers Weekly

"More than anything else, the book is a temple of love to the imaginary, and to literature as an option for deep and vigorous living. . . . The story succeeds in arousing interest and emotion. . . . The greatness of the novel is understood only in retrospect, after reading it and tying all the threads, events and vantage points together into one complete picture."
Time Out Israel

"There is something addictive about Judith Katzir’s writing: the ability to pour beauty and meaning into a fleeting moment, to catch it in the tangle of time and shape and polish it all in metaphoric language that is amazingly sensuous and precise."
Globes

"Judith Katzir—a true writer—has produced a novel dealing with sensitive and difficult human material. With a skilled hand she transforms it into a sensual work full of love and sensitivity that touches the inner heart."
Haim Be'er

"In Dearest Anne the author manages to get inside a fourteen-year-old girl without judging her, teaching her or setting herself above her. Nature and human nature together celebrate a new beginning. This is Judith Katzir’s best book."
Nathan Shaham

"A thoughtful, mature and even heartbreaking book. . . . Ultimately, Katzir succeeds in making us mourn the passing of time in our own lives, by infusing each of her characters with the sort of wisdom that can only be gained through years of regret, a wisdom so real and palpable that it feels like we earned it through our own trials."
Haaretz

"Katzir portrays a passionate relationship between an adolescent girl and her married female literature teacher. . . . Readers might balk at the high volume of explicit sex appearing throughout the book. Beyond that potential hurdle are multiple literary allusions, lessons about choices, and a distinctive coming-of-age story."
ForeWord

"Judith Katzir['s] . . . Prose, so rich in detail and evocative images, manages to tether her unique characters to an entire country, bringing both vividly to life. . . . Katzir uses her exacting eye and an innovative form to bring this . . . unpredictable story to the page."
Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country
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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Women Writers
  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155861575X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558615755
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,221,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on June 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm a little conflicted about how to review this book. On one hand, it's well-written and provocative and it does present a beautifully-observed time capsule of Israel in the late 1970s when the country's youth was freeing itself from the strictures of classic Zionism and opening itself to the world of hedonistic sexual liberation.
It's also rich in literary allusions (curiously, one scene refers to Goethe's poem, "The Erlking" which also looms large in my own book The Nazi Hunter: A Novel
On the other hand, there's something very nasty and vile at the center of the book that the author only half-acknowledges -- an affair between a 14-year-old girl and her 28-year-old English teacher.
The fact that this is a lesbian affair didn't bother me. The fact that such blatant child-abuse is presented as something beautiful and precious did.
The book is cast in the form of a diary written by 14-year-old Rivi Shenhav. Inspired by Anne Frank who wrote her diary to an imaginary friend she called "Kitty", Rivi writes her diary to Anne and signs her entries Kitty. Some suggested this device is disrespectful to the Holocaust and the memory of its victims. I don't agree. It's an effective framing device and makes the point that in many ways Rivi gets to live the life Anne was denied by the Nazis. Rivi and Anne share many characteristics, not least a literary talent and poetic sensibility. I can definitely imagine a young Israeli girl identifying with Anne. It may be that Katzir is arguing for a more nuanced way for Israelis to grapple with the Holocaust and memory. Two scenes regarding the way Holocaust Memorial Day is observed in her school in Haifa make that point in interesting ways.
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Format: Paperback
Finely translated into English by Dalya Bilu, "Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love" is the story of Rivi, many decades after a lesbian love affair with her teacher. The teacher, Michaela, has passed on, and Rivi returns to Israel to pay her condolences and mourn a relationship that could never be. Faced with the results of her decision in life, she turns to her notebooks addressed to Anne Frank to help her reflect. An original tale, "Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love" is highly recommended for community library world fiction collections.
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By Miriam Erez on October 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Think about a priest abusing an altar boy; a father committing incest on his daughter; a pedophile cruising playgrounds; a teacher falling in love with her pupil. The law views them all as the same; Yehudit Katzir succeeds in convincing us that the latter case is not like the first three. With deftness and clarity, she tells us of the encounter between Michaela, who as an only child married to an only child, is under enormous pressure to have a child, her ticket into mainstream, acceptable life; and Rivi, a wise-for-her-years teen who's been emotionally abandoned by her remarried dad and narcissistic mother. It would be a disservice to label their relationship as gay or bi; it's beyond labels, and though exploitation could be argued -- as Rivi's later boyfriend asserts -- there's none of the scarring that we're told is necessarily a result of such a relationship. Instead we see how Michaela in a sense rescued Rivi. Dearest Anne was utterly engaging, and I'll be reading more of Katzir. I read it in the original. Go, Katzir! Wonderful novel. PS Booklist is wrong: It doesn't take place in rural Israel. Have no idea how they arrived at that conclusion. It takes place in the Carmel district of Haifa, Israel's third-largest city. Hence all the references to "Carmel".
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By BP on August 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
All girls and women 13 and up should read this book. I wish it had been around when I was a teen. Women who have never loved a woman will have their eyes opened wide, and women who had been lucky enough to experience the total devotion of another female will have plenty to relate to. And those ladies who have struggled between loving both sexes, will put this book on the top of their all time favorites list. It certainly has become one of my favorite books of all time. I actually bought this for a friend, because I didn't want to lend her mine.
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