As I have said before, some of our happiest, most satisfying moments are when readers write to us, telling us how they feel about my novel The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. A few days ago, I received an unusually articulate and moving letter from seventeen-year-old Michal Schick.
Dear Robert Avrech,
I read The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden a few weeks ago, and I greatly enjoyed it. The story and the narration had a tender, precocious flavor to it, but at the same time was unquestionably genuine. What I found particularly engaging was the feeling that I was reading about a family I knew, even though I have never come across a story about Orthodox Jews in the west before. The characters were lively and complex (something I was not looking for in a book of this length), and I really enjoyed the interaction of the Issacson family with every stripe of persona in the American West. (Ariel’s classic Yiddishe Mama berating the Apache was perfect!) Rebecca’s character did chafe my nerves a bit, but I have a sneaking suspicion this has to do with the fact that she is quite similar to myself in many aspects. As for Ariel himself, I was quite blown away. He literally came to life before my eyes. I could picture perfectly this slight Jewish boy, who had seen so much sorrow in his young life, walking straight backed through the desert with a Chumash tucked firmly under his arm and in his heart. It was fascinating to read about how he and Lozen bonded, neither having met anyone quite like the other in their lives, but feeling that easy, instant connection. I loved their conversation about marriage near the end of the book – so mature for their age, yet so very easy to understand. When I finally was able to share in Ariel’s long awaited Bar Mitzvah, his joy was thoroughly my own.
When I first came to your website, I was looking for more information on The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. I was not expecting to be drawn into the life of your son, but I am very grateful I have. Reading about Ariel’s life has brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion, and I thank you for sharing anecdotes about him so that so many others can learn from his inspiration.
One last question – will anything become of Max and Rebecca?
Looking forward to reading The Hebrew Kid and Buffalo Bill.
I was so taken with Michal’s incredibly mature review that I immediately wrote back and asked Michal to tell me something about herself.
Here is her response:
I live in New York, in Queens. I attend Shevach High School for Girls (a bit of a long shot, but your daughters might have heard of it). My mother and I have been spreading the word about your book, and I think that it does appeal to a wide range of age groups although the prime interest is probably at about 6th or 7th grade. I find that books most popular among my peer group fall into the ‘chick lit’ category – light, breezy satire about what they know, or want to know. For myself, I am a self confessed addict to the fantasy genre, but whenever I pull myself away from the dead weight of the latest tome, I enjoy reading historical fiction and the like. I really think it’s wonderful that there is now a publishing company devoted to releasing quality Jewish books. When I was younger, I devoured every Jewish book I could find, and while I understand their value for a certain niche, the majority of those books were mediocre efforts at best. My mother has been waiting years for such a development, and whenever we discuss it I can see how excited the prospect of Seraphic Press makes her.Thank you,
Once, as she was helping me set up this blog, my friend Jackie of The Big Blog Company said to me, “A blogger gets the readers he deserves.” If this is so, then I am blessed.