A Day of Small Beginnings by Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum
A Novel

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Poland, 1906 On a warm spring night, in the small Jewish cemetery of Zokof, Friedl Alterman is wakened from death. On the ground above her crouches Itzik Leiber, a reclusive, unbelieving fourteen-year-old whose fatal mistake has spurred the town's angry residents to violence. The childless Friedl rises to guide him to safety-only to find she cannot go back to her tomb. Now Friedl is trapped in that thin world between life and death, her brash decision binding her forever to Itzik and his family: she is fated to be forever restless, and he, forever haunted by the ghosts of his past.Years later, after Itzik himself has gone to his grave, his son, Nathan, knows nothing of his bitter father's childhood. When he begrudgingly goes to Poland on business, Nathan decides on a whim to visit his ancestral town. There, in Zokof, he meets the mysterious Rafael, the town's last remaining Jew, who promises to pass on all the things Itzik had failed to teach his son-about Zokof, about his faith, and about himself. And yet, like the generation before him, Nathan keeps what he learns hidden inside himself. With the family legacy in danger of being lost, Friedl's restless spirit guides Itzik's precocious granddaughter, Ellen, on a journey of her own to Zokof, where only Friedl can help Ellen unlock the mysteries of her family's past-and only Ellen can help Friedl break her agonizing enslavement. A stunning debut novel of enormous scope and beauty, A Day of Small Beginnings tells the timeless story of the Leiber family; of the secrets that break them, the love that binds them, and the town that is both their curse and their redemption.

About Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum

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Published August 1, 2009 by Little, Brown and Company. 368 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In 1905, 83-year-old Friedl Alterman’s soul awakens in the village of Zokof’s Jewish cemetery when young Itzik Lieber hugs her gravestone while hiding from a Polish mob after an act of heroism.

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Publishers Weekly

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He is drawn to his father's hometown (via a still-protective Friedl), and there he comes upon Rafael Bergson, "the last Jew in Zokof," who forces Nathan to confront his ambiguous feelings about religion and begs him to help restore Friedl's spirit through prayer and ritual.

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BC Books

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They each get professional invitations to Poland, where they encounter Friedl and Rafael, a man who has dedicated his life to helping Friedl find peace.

Feb 01 2007 | Read Full Review of A Day of Small Beginnings: A ...


The reader will feel many emotions such as the sorrow of Freidl Alterman for being childless and her strong desire to protect Itzik because it is almost like a chance for her to redeem herself.

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Historical Novel Society

Her descriptions of the sights, sounds and tastes of Poland, especially the architecture, music and the food work well for the most part, especially as they’re seen through the characters’ eyes as they come face to face with their heritage.

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