From Publishers Weekly
In her first English translation, Israeli author Frank offers a captivating roman à clef told, in part, by a stubborn eight-year-old girl named Rina, whose family emigrates from Romania to Haifa, Israel, following WWII. Living in poor conditions with two other families in a small three-room apartment, Rina and her older—and wiser, and more practical—sister take pleasure in repainting game tiles, bathing once a week, and picking out third-hand blouses from America. The sisters connect with their diverse city from their balcony, which gives them a view into even less fortunate lives. Interspersed with Rina's childhood memories, a third-person narrative follows the adult Rina as she falls in love with a handsome Spaniard from a well-to-do family, marries him, moves to Barcelona, and returns to Israel to give birth. Though Rina's spunky personality (and her sister's sound advice) remain consistent throughout, Frank's cunning use of the intermittent first person reveals Rina's childhood in parts, meaning that readers come to understand the grown Rina's actions only gradually. (June)
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A time and place rarely explored, Haifa in the 1950s was a confusing and poverty-stricken place. As a young child, Rina, the daughter of Romanian immigrants, lives in the middle of a developing country and struggles with her desire to escape the poverty. As a young adult she leaves Israel only to find herself longing to return. Originally written in Hebrew and now translated into English, some language and dialogue has a stilted quality, but the historical setting makes that seem almost natural. Despite this, and despite being set in a time and place that in many ways no longer exists, this presumably autobiographical novel still has a modern feel. --Marta Segal Block