This exquisitely written, remarkably crafted first novel traces three generations of a Southern Jewish family. It is a story about deeply rooted family secrets, the complex love between sisters, and the constant human struggle to keep one's history alive.
Finding her mother's wedding dress, ten-year-old Thea was sure she had discovered a treasure. While trying the gown on, she easily envisioned the beautiful bride her mother must have been. But when her mother discovered her wearing the dress, a shattering rage is unleashed--and the feel of her slap across Thea's face lasted a lifetime. Her mother's irrational anger, coupled with Thea's already strong feelings of disconnection with her father and only sister, Mickey, caused her to feel like an outsider in her own family.
Married to a non-Jewish man, unable to have children, her parents now dead, Thea acquires eight letters, from her grandmother to her grandmother's sister, written in Yiddish in the 1930s just before and after Thea's parents' wedding. The cache of letters promises to answer some of her lifelong questions and resolve her ambivalence toward her family, but Mickey urges her not to have the letters translated, to "let sleeping dogs lie." Thea decides to trust her own instincts and have the letters deciphered--and indeed begins to unravel the perplexing and disquieting secrets of her family. In the end, Thea faces sadness in her life as well as a multitude of questions raised by these letters, questions about marriage, sisters, and what it means to belong.
The Slow Way Back is a love song to family, to this family's--and every family's--ability to confront the most difficult parts of its past and face the future with hope. This story will move you deeply; its ending has a fullness of spirit you will not soon forget.
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