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Blessing on Moon

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  61 reviews
From the author of the highly acclaimed, award-winning novel A Blessing on the Moon comes a provocative and hilarious inquiry into whether a dyspeptic Jewish musicologist can find happiness in a world filled with dissonant chords.

When Chaim Skibelski is killed along with the other Jewish citizens of a small Polish town, his story is just beginning. Now a ghost, Chaim wande...more
Paperback, 267 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Berkley Trade (first published January 10th 1997)
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Jill
One of the unique joys of a passionate reader is chancing upon a book that is so richly imagined it grabs you by the hand and takes you along on an incredible journey. Such is the power of the remarkable A Blessing On The Moon.

Not since D. M. Thomas’s amazing The White Hotel have I read a book that tackles one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century – indeed, of any century – so originally and audaciously. Written in a sort of realist surrealism style, the novel successfully combines fan...more
Madeline Knight-Dixon
A Blessing on the Moon, Joseph Skibell:

I love that I’m an English major because I think I read books in a completely new way now. Not only did I love the premise of this book, but the symbolism and the extended metaphor were so moving and heartbreaking. They’re things I didn’t really used to think about when reading. But now that I see them and I analyze without having to try, I get books so much better than I used to.

The story is about how a group of Nazis come into a Jewish town and shoot the...more
Chrissie
I finished A Blessing on the Moon. I think at the end its message was rather trite and overworked, The fantastical story got too complicated. There were too many fictional details to say something rather simple. Too constructed. Perhaps the auhor was trying to say more than I comprehended. Furthermore, as the book reached its end, the humor became less frequent. I prefered the first half because there the gruesome bits are balanced by humor and the reader is egged on by curiousity. I wish I coul...more
Annie
Essentially describing the Jewish holocaust of WW2 (and afermath) - as seen from the dreamlike perspective of an elderly family man; a man we first meet running from the mass grave he has just been blasted into. This book takes fantastical routes through alternate realities to give an impression of devastation from the point of view of eternal hopefulness.
Darshan Elena
What a surreal, macabre, and amazing read! This book doesn't overlook the horrors of war and genocide; rather it exposes such banal evil to the light of the moon, heart, and mind. Skibell's A Blessing on the Moon is sheer brilliance.
Peter
One of the best, if not _the_ best fictional treatments about events during the Holocaust I have read.

Chaim, the ghostly protagonist, is a mensch although he doesn't realize it. The dead rebbe, in the form of a crow, acts as a spirit guide. Although the subject matter is incredibly painful, Skibell never descends to the maudlin; quite the opposite. He writes of the humanity which still glimmers in the worst,the most tragic of times times.

At the end, as another reviewer here wrote: "This is a s...more
Dragonlady-sci-fi-fantasy
This was a Holocaust book with a twist. It combined events of the time with Jewish traditions and mysticism. Perhaps those not raised or fluent in the unspoken/unwritten traditions and beliefs of the Jewish faith may not fully understand many references and nuances. This book was touching on many levels.

I read this many years ago, along with Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, as alternatives for presenting the Holocaust. While Briar Rose was suitable for a middle grade audience, A Blessing on the Moon is...more
Melissa Conner
I love libraries. I love the idea of being surrounded by stories of all kinds. Sometimes I’ll just browse one shelf and do what everyone has told us not to do our entire lives: judge a book by its cover. If the cover interests me, I’ll dive in and see where the story takes me.

When I happened to stumble upon A Blessing on the Moon, I found the cover and the description whimsical. A rabbi who turns into a crow…a ghost looking for redemption…I was instantly taken.

As a Jewish student, I have to say...more
Chana
A book to read, mainly, with the heart. I didn't understand a lot of what went on, what it meant in a metaphorical sense, but I deeply felt the book with my heart. And my heart was broken.

Despite all the fantastical elements in this book I didn't find all the things that happened any less explicable than what life is really like. We live in an inexplicable and fantastical world whether we recognize that or not. How would one deal with all that pain, all that blood. If Chaim Skibelsky was wanderi...more
Carolyn Gerk
I hate to give this novel two stars. I really enjoyed the first half but the second drug on and was actually kind of annoying. The fantasy approach the the author used was clever and , as the comment on the cover states , "as magical as it is macabre". In the latter half, however, the fantasy seemed too complicated and not at all rewarding.
I found this alternate reality a fresh take on a theme that tends to be beaten into the ground. The author had received negative reviews based on the fact th...more
L.
A funny book about the Holocaust? A ghost story about a man shot by German soldiers? A fable about the disappearance and retrieval of the moon? The revenge of the dead Jew, which entails kicked the dismembered head of the soldier who shot him through the forest? All that, in one book?

The story starts with Chaim being shot and left, with the rest of the Jews in his Polish village, in a pit. He immediately climbs out and goes back to his house, where Polish peasants have moved in lock, stock and b...more
Kerfe
I found this book to be very theatrical, and it turns out it began as a play. Skibell said he felt it didn't have enough dialogue to stay on stage, but it is very visual, and I don't think it would need much talking to be successful. Well--it's a good novel too.

One of the reviews I read of Ramona Ausubel's "No One is Here Except All of Us" mentions "A Blessing on the Moon" as being similar and also excellent. And they do share some similarities. They both use the Holocaust as a starting point an...more
Cathy
Wish I could give it 4 1/2 stars! Read as a book club selection. It is never easy to read about the Holocaust, even when presented as a magical/folk tale. Still, so happy I picked it up. The big take away for me is the idea that we are all forever changed by genocide - anytime - anywhere.

"...let me say it loudly - novels and stories are not trivial. On the contrary, profound stories are a means of orienting ourselves within the cosmos. Literature is a compass that points to humankind's true nort...more
Debbie
Feb 08, 2014 Debbie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who can handle a magical realism approach to the Holocaust
Recommended to Debbie by: goodreads
Shelves: holocaust
This is a "magical realism" holocaust book. Our main character Chayim has already died, or actually been killed by the Nazis, when the book opens. We get to hear straight from the horse's mouth what the experience of execution, along with all your neighbors is like. But the book is not just a gore fest. The hero visits and watches his home ,now inhabited by his neighbors. He finds his family and catches up with them. A tortured body and soul, he is looking for peace in a cruel world.He finds a s...more
Sima
I found this book.and.just threw it in my shopping basket. little did I know this novel would truly move my soul. the poignant point of view, fantastical imagery and emotionally jarring dialogue makes this novel extraordinary. a mix of haunting beauty created by a truly brilliant story my new favorite.
Jessi
First line: "It all happened so quickly."

I didn't feel particularly involved in this book. Partially, I felt like I needed to have a better understanding of Jewish faith, theory, and myth to get the deeper meaning and symbolism of what was going on. I kept reading because I was intrigued by a book set during the Holocaust that is told from the point of view of the ghost of a man who dies very early in the round-up of the Jewish population in Poland. This was unique. For people who enjoy lyrical...more
Susanna Suchak
This tale about triumph over the evil of the Holocaust and the gift of being in community lingers with me and will for some time. The writing is full of imagination, insight, irony and dry wit. It leaves me yearning to possess such faith -- full of doubt, overcome by curiosity. It compels me to commit lines to memory - so poignant and instructive to life in general and to mine in particular.Joseph Skibbel honed his craft on the short story and it is evident in his precise yet elegant language. C...more
Carole
What a difficult book to rate and review. This holocaust novel is written in the style of magical-realism, which I find difficult to read or enjoy. Never would have read it if not a book club choice, found it very gruesome. No one in our group could say they liked it except for me. It was cathartic for me to read and I cannot stop thinking about it. It spoke on a deep level of mysteries that are beyond my understanding.
Lisa Murphy
A ghost of the Holocaust haunts the Polish village where he lived, questing to free the fallen moon and return it to the sky. The main characters are true and compelling, funny and overflowing with humanity. Story wanders a bit (has "the middles" as we authors say), and unlike a neatly wrapped genre novel, the symbolism is left for the reader to decipher. Graceful, powerful writing.
Hshafter Shafter
Wow! This book is a *trip* and a half. It starts out normal enough; we've seen plenty of stories from/about the dead. But this just takes it to another level - Beetlejuice style. I love the way the author incorporates Jewish culture into the story without telling the reader. It is just intrinsic. I also love the creepiness mingled with the mundane.
Liz
What a bizarre book! That in and of itself wouldn't keep me from liking it, but whoa. Best explanation I can offer is that it's kind of like a horror story written about a Holocaust-era Jew who was murdered in the first few pages. The rest of the book is from his rotting corpse's point of view. Really weird. Maybe I missed the point...
Pamela Stadden
This is a brilliant book. I have read it several times.

When I was a teacher, I would read the introductory paragraphs in class and even the most negative students would react to such an amazing story.
the Reeds
"Chaim Skibelski rises from a pit of slaughter, leaving his dead townsmen and family behind, and returns to his home--now occupied by non-Jews."

I could not resist reading this immediately based on that short description. The book, however, works on some levels and not on others. I didn't get the whole 'moon thing' near the end.
Billiejo
I never forgot this book even though I read it years ago. It was a strange book to me because at the time I didnt realize it was folklore and in my young-reader mind I wasnt grasping the hidden meanings. It was a touching book at the time, but believe I would get more meaning from the book in 2013 than I did all those years ago.
Lisa
Weird book. Can't decide if I liked it or not
Caitlin Griffin
i appreciated what the author was doing, but it was a lot more magical realism than i expected for some reason. i knew about the rabbi being a crow, but the novel goes from one interesting but unresolved scene to the next. so, i felt the story was a little too disjointed, but i really enjoyed skibell's writing.
Sandra
This is a wonderful story of what should not be so wonderful- the holocaust was horrible, but for Chaim Skibelski, the ordeal continued even after he was shot dead. Leaving behind the other of his village in Poland, he climbs out of their grave and wonders the area trying to come to terms with his dilemma.
Melissa
This really is quite an intense read. Well worth it and a pleasant surprise. But like most books that could be classified in the genre of magical-realism there are many aspects of the story I don't find conclusive enough. Probably just a personal preference. Excellently written.
Sphinx Feathers
This book was way more complicated than it needed to be. Although the idea was very interesting and the created mythos was pretty cool, the story was a bit of a chore to get through because it was so fantastical.
Book bingo: blue cover
mark
It gives nothing away to tell that the narrator is dead - it happens within the first few pages - but not so dead that he can't continue to participate in life, at least to a limited extent...
Yes, strange - and beautiful, and touching.
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