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Kipling Book Club

Saskatchewan Book Clubs


Book Review

Snow in August by Pete Hamill


Discussion rating 5/5

*****

Book Synopsis

In the year 1947, Michael Devlin, eleven years old and 100 percent American-Irish, is about to forge an extraordinary bond with a refugee of war named Rabbi Judah Hirsch. Standing united against a common enemy, they will summon from ancient sources a power in desperately short supply in modern Brooklyn -- a force that's forgotten by most of the world but is known to believers as magic.

From Pete Hamill, bestselling author and former editor-in-chief of one of America's largest newspapers, the New York Daily News, comes a masterful, astonishing story of gritty streets, awakening youth, and undying wonder.


Discussion

For those club members who had boys, this book realistically depicted a boy's coming of age with his confusion between reality and fantasy.

Debate centred quite a bit around the author's message. Hamill seemed to be moving the boy to go to the police to solve his problem until the Golem entered. The Golem didn't fit the rest of the book, allowing some members to suggest that perhaps it was all a dream. But if that was the case, then the boy's problem wasn't solved by book's end.

Dislikes about the book: police as enemies, the language knowledge of the eleven year old boy which didn't fit the age, and the misleading mythical ending.

Likes about the book: a boy coming of age, the mother/son relationship, and the magical stories about Prague.

Other points discussed:

  • ghettoized enclaves in the States,
  • rumour and truth in these enclaves,
  • meaning of the title,
  • each religion has something to offer another religion,
  • Father Heaney's comment about the similarity between Jews and Christians "We both believe in an Old Testament God. He punishes all morons."
  • purity of heart to make the magic work,
  • moral ambiguity in the Golem beating Frankie,
  • difference between Hilter's evil and Stalin's,
  • Jackie Robinson's role,
  • and the role of heroes in our lives.



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