4 out of 5 stars
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Sometimes reading a book is like drinking alcohol. At times one needs to gulp it down quickly and get it over with. Other times, one needs to sip and savor the beverage. This book falls somewhere in the middle. Of Lessons Lost is a 348-page, slow-paced story. It spans several generations and families whose lives evolve like twisted vines on a trellis.
Fred Snyder's historical fiction novel examines how past events impact lives in the present. As with many novels in this genre, revenge is a key factor. There are three main sections that span the years from 1942 to 2018. The setting bounces from Poland to Israel to Russia and to the USA. The challenges of Jewish life are portrayed through several generations of the Bikel family.
Although there is not a significantly designated protagonist, Avi Bikel is my choice, and the passages that revolve around him are my favorite. The relationships between Avi and his wife, Avi and his father, and Avi and the men who served with him are touching.
My least favorite passages are those that present facts like a history book. Because the information is delivered through dialogue, it is especially annoying. One character would ask another, "Did you know . . ." and then expound on the topic. These scenes are unrealistic and do not add to the story.
I suggest using a character chart while reading this book because keeping the family trees sorted out is difficult. I also suggest being tolerant of the stylistic grammar choices. I found no objective errors, but the subjective ones are plentiful.
Snyder is to be admired for his research, his passion for religious tolerance, and his storytelling skills. Reading this book provides the opportunity to learn about aspects of the Zionist movement in an entertaining format. Due to the negatives mentioned earlier, my rating is four out of five.
Of Lessons Lost
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