Lily of the Valley: —An American Jewish Journey

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It begins with a pogrom in Russia long ago. After Laili’s little brother is stomped to death and Mama slashed, Papa decides Laili and her sister, Basya, should go to America. Mama is too sick, and Papa stays behind with her. When the girls arrive in America, Laili becomes Lily, as the inspector at Ellis Island says Laili was too hard to pronounce. Basya becomes Bess. The girls work hard and Lily marries David, beginning a new family lineage of American Jews. Lily’s daughter Molly stays in America when Bess returns to Russia after Lily dies in a fire. Molly keeps the dream alive. This story follows the family’s assimilation into American society, rising out of abject poverty to reach the American dream through hard work and wise saving, investing, and building. The story follows the women in this family with a matriarchal religion through five generations, from the east coast to the west coast, as they keep Judaism at the center and as the anchor of all their lives.

Poet Xianna Michaels sets herself quite a task to tell this large, multi-generational story in English sestet form. The use of verse is becoming quite popular these days for writing novels and novellas, but it is uncommon to write such a work in such formal, rhymed structure. Ms. Michaels’s writing is quite lyrical and lovely, although occasionally the rhyme seems forced and the meter a bit uneven. That said, the power of the story with rich, complex characters and such a substantial setting (where religion becomes a major component of setting) is rather an amazing accomplishment in so few pages. This is more an American story than it is a Jewish story and deserves to be enjoyed by a wide audience.

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Author Xianna Michaels
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 64 pages
Publisher Alcabal Press, LLC
Publish Date 1-Mar-16
ISBN 9781941067017 Buy this Book
Issue April 2016
Category Historical Fiction


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