Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Not Me” as Want to Read:
Not Me
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Not Me

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,558 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Not Me is a remarkable debut novel that tells the dramatic and surprising stories of two men–father and son–through sixty years of uncertain memory, distorted history, and assumed identity.

When Heshel Rosenheim, apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, hands his son, Michael, a box of moldy old journals, an amazing adventure begins–one that takes the reader from the
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Not Me, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Not Me

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John BoyneA Life Intercepted by Charles MartinIf I Stay by Gayle FormanBridge to Haven by Francine RiversAngels Walking by Karen Kingsbury
CCC Bookclub List 2015
12th out of 61 books — 21 voters
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina SimonsThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann ShafferTatiana and Alexander by Paullina SimonsThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Lost Wife by Alyson Richman
Amazing WWII fiction (some with romance)
93rd out of 137 books — 285 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
May 21, 2009 K rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Book clubs; thoughtful readers, even if they're sick of Holocaust lit.
Recommended to K by: Ellen
I’m the first to say it. The Holocaust genre is way oversaturated. When I read “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” I was filled with rage that this was what it had come to – a cheap, gimmicky, and frankly stupid book written simply to capitalize on the marketability of the Holocaust. But every now and then, I do end up reading a Holocaust-related book that has something interesting and different about it and is worth reading even though it’s Holocaust lit. “The Book Thief.” “Those Who Save Us.” An ...more
Sarah Null
Sometimes beautiful, sometimes harrowing, but always intriguing, this novel asks questions that can't be easily answered: Can sixty years of good deeds atone for a past in which a person committed the worst crimes imaginable? Can people truly change who they are, and if they do, does it matter anymore who they were? Can a person be excused from wrongdoing if they really believed it was right? Is there anything you wouldn't forgive the people you love the most?
Interesting story of a Jewish man (Michael) who travels to Florida to care for his dying father. Upon one visit he's given a box of journals written out by his father. He picks up the first and begins to read a story where his father was not Hershel Rosenheim, a Holocaust survivor, but began life as Heinrich Mueller, an SS officer working as an accountant at Majdanek concentration camp who steals a Jewish victim's identity to avoid being charged with war crimes. Michael wonders if this is really ...more
This is a complete fairy tale. While the story was interesting, it was completely unbelievable. Anyone who has lived with or been intimately involved with Holocaust survivors knows that no SS member would ever live with or fight for the Jews. The story was plausible during the part where he starved himself and took on the identity of a Jewish inmate. However, once he got out of the Reich territory, he would have found his way to the SS Nazi network and would have been spirited away to a South Am ...more
I liked the idea of this novel, but unfortunately I wasn't as impressed with the actual storytelling. Michael Rosenheim is a stand up comedian who is suffering through the breakup of his marriage, the strained relationship with his son, and the deterioration of his father. He comes to Florida to care for his father, who vacillates between lucidity and dementia, and discovers his father's long buried secret about his past. Through detailed journals, his father tells the story of being an SS offic ...more
Lisa Nienhaus
I read a lot of WWII books and the description of this book really caught my attention. The Father in this book is an accountant basically in a concentration camp and fearing the end is near, shaves his head, tattoos himself and pretends he is one of the Jews needing saving from this camp. What an interesting story line.....I just wish the rest of the book could have been as interesting. The book had no likeable characters in it and ended with too many unresolved issues for my liking. All in all ...more
Jennifer Zimny
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not Me is a compelling novel on so many levels. For me it was a metaphor for self identity, sin and change, and the superficial roles that one plays in order to move on with their life and flee from the consequences of their actions.

Heshel learned that fleeing only negates the truth, which followed him everywhere he went. Within the context of the self identity are the themes of love, loss, forgiveness and redemption. The blur between forgiveness and redemption is obvious in the way Lavigne wri
My advice: Don't be witty about the holocaust. It's not a subject to link with humor.

And, this reads like a first novel... the transitions are very rough, making the "journal" not quite fit the narrator's story.

Niether the journal writer or the narrator are likable, particularly, but maybe it's that they are both very flat characters.

I thought the writing improved in the last 50 pages, but the twist didn't ring true with what the reader knew about the narrator.

I finished it because it was as
This book is morally bankrupt.

While community service may have been sufficient repayment of the father's sins in the son's eyes, perhaps a judge would feel differently. Crimes against humanity means forgiveness or redemption or whatever can only come from the larger community.

We had war trials. Judges, not sons, sat in judgement of Nazi officers. The passage of time does not change that necessity, except in this book. Sons are too biased to judge a father. While the jury system in the US is not
Good Book Fairy
this book has been on my TBR pile for 3-4 years and i finally picked it up as my book club chose it as a last minute choice. so glad the dice rolled that way as this was a well told, interesting book that bristled with a touch of mystery while really examining secrets, family relationships, love and loss.
highly recommend.
read this book after reading Jodi P's The Storyteller.
very similar themes in that the main characters are/were Nazi SS who live out there lives as
americans… in this book it goes so far that he is an american jew.

how many germans are/were there who escaped german persecution after the war?
pick this book up.

S.B. Lerner
The beginning drew me in and there was some delightful Humor. It is really two stories, and the father's story was quite compelling, but the son's grew somewhat repetitive and maudlin. Also, the way he wrapped it up in the end didn't really feel exactly believable, and that took away some of the emotional impact
What a strange, strange time I thought.
My father finally was allowed to forget, while I was forced to remember. As if there was not enough room in this world for both of us to carry that burden.

This sentence from Not Me pretty much summarize what the whole book is about : memories, true or invented, that are forgotten either by choice of because of a disease and how painful and hard to deal with their recovery can be.

Heshel Rosenheim, a holocaust survivor, is a very religious man, a faithful Je
Angela Rosio
A story of the Holocaust with a bizzare twist that is both disturbing and insightful to human nature. Discusses forgiveness, redemption, living on different levels within our own mind. An interesting and powerfully moving book.
"Not Me is a remarkable debut novel that tells the dramatic and surprising stories of two men–father and son–through sixty years of uncertain memory, distorted history, and assumed identity."

The story begins as Michael is visiting his elderly Alzheimer-ridden father in Florida. Heshel Rosensheim has been the quintessential holy Jew, keeping kosher, celebrating all the Jewish holidays, raising money for Israel, and sponsoring the adoption of Jewish children from overseas. One day Heshel gives Mic
This book bounces back and forth between present day and post WWII in Israel during the Israeli fight for Independence. The time period of the 'present' part of the story happens to be during the High Holy days with many references to Teshuvah. It just so happens that it was during Rosh Hashana that I started reading the book. The main character is a stand-up comedian, wallowing in his own self-pity, who grew up in New Jersey. I did too so I recognized the local references as well as the ones to ...more
Sep 08, 2013 Sheri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: race, wwii
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read and very compelling. The plot device was both entertaining and thought provoking.

This was much more of a character piece than a plot driven novel. Although Lavigne tries to make the plot a central point, it was oftentimes transparent. Very early on (before Micheal begins to read the journal), I realized that his father must have been harboring some guilt for his actions during the war. I wondered if April was actually Heshel's daughter (if Fredl'
This novel is about (… no worries, this is not a spoiler!) a Jewish middle age man whose father is dying in Palm Beach; the son goes to be with his father at the end of his life and is given a series of journals that indicate his father may have been a Nazi war criminal who hid his identity following WWII. The novel is the story of the son’s discovery and the conflicts he faces as he finds more information.

It is an interesting premise, and early on in the novel, I was very intrigued. I like the
An engrossingly philosophical novel which may be too theoretical by half but nonetheless tackles some hard questions with a compelling premise. Mickey Rosenheim’s father is dying in Florida. By all accounts he is a Jewish saint, loved by all and sundry and the recipient of numerous awards, citations, and testimonials. The only problem comes when he arranges for his visiting son to take possession of a box of journals that seem to suggest Heshel Rosenheim was not in fact a holocaust survivor but ...more
Tyler Barton
Michael Lavigne's engaging first novel reads like a memoir, but it isn't. The main character, Michael, a middle aged, soon-to-be-divorced, comedian, is taking care of his dying father when he learns some secrets that will change everything about his family. His senile father gives him a stack of journals and asks Michael to read them. The book is comprised half of the story of Michael and his process of the discovery of truth, and the story told within the pages of his father's journals. He quic ...more
What would happen if someone you revered your entire life turned out to not be the person you thought they were? This is the central theme of Michael Lavigne’s debut novel, Not Me. It’s the story of a middle-aged Jewish man named Michael who is watching his elderly father, Heshel, slowly die of Alzheimer’s. After receiving a box of his father’s old journals from a mysterious benefactor, Michael learns that the man he believed was the most pious Jew he had ever known was a Nazi bookeeper who assu ...more
This book is a curious mix of funny (narrator is a comedian) and serious (his father is a supposed Holocaust survivor). I'm not sure how I'm going to like that juxtaposition, but so far I'm intrigued enough to continue reading...


Okay, couldn't do it. This ended up being too strange a juxtaposition for me. As revealed quickly in the book (and in the book description, I believe), the narrator grows up in a Jewish household and believes his father was a Jewish Holocaust survivor, only to discover
Nov 02, 2008 Sera rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to read about a different Holocaust perspective
Recommended to Sera by: Shelia
Shelves: kindle, other-fiction, own
I've studied and read many books about the Holocaust, so I figured that this book would focus on the standard story of human suffering and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. I find the Holocaust (or any kind of genocide) to be devastating, but I'm been looking for something new to learn about the history (which is also why I didn't give Elie Wiesel's, Night, a high rating, even though I would have if it were my first introduction to the horrors that the Jewish suffered du ...more
May 08, 2007 Courtney rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Alyssa (and other Holocaust lit scholars)
The premise is thought-provoking, but the writing is mediocre. The viewpoint swings between Michael, the struggling son of a concentration camp survivor, and his father Heshel, a Jewish human rights advocate with severe Alzheimer's. Michael's voice lacks any of the complexity found in similar characters, such as the unnamed son who narrates Wiesel's The Fifth Son.

But while Heshel's voice is not as raw and profound as others, Lavigne uses him as a strong catalyst figure: can you change who you ar
The ethical and moral dilemma at the heart of the story--was the kind-hearted Holocaust survivor devoted to Jewish and liberal causes actually an SS bureaucrat who stole the identity of one of his victims?--made me pick up this book. The premise was better than the execution, however. Michael, the son of Heshel Rosenheim/Heinrich Mueller, narrates the story. Though Michael's perspective was entertaining at first, it soon paled in comparison to the journals of Heshel which contained the story of ...more
Fantastic book! I can't believe this is a first novel.

What if your father wasn't a Jewish Holocaust survivor but rather a member of the German SS who stole a camp prisoner's name and adopted a new identity? How would you feel if you found this out soon after your father checked into a hospice? That's the premise for an amazing novel about evil and redemption as well as family relationships. It's not completely gloom and doom though as the son who narrates this novel is a standup comedian a la Je
Michael is in Florida because his dad has dementia and is dying. While there he is given a box of old journals written by his dad. Michael has known his dad as a religious Zionist who gave freely to all Jewish causes. When he reads the diaries, he starts to realize his dad is not the man he has known. Could he really have been the Nazi described in the journals?

Page turner, well written. While I didn't care for the characters so much, I liked the story.
I didn't love this book the way I thought I would. I felt there were some gaps in the story and I did not get to know any of the characters as much as I wanted and needed to. Also there was just so much left unresolved and I was hoping for some answers. The book jumps back and forth between the present, in the USA, and the past, set in Europe and then mostly Israel. I did not love that and felt it made my interest lower.
My book group had a really good discussion about this book. Can someone
be redeemed even if they start out evil? "Not me" covers many moral dilemmas and is quite well written. In an interview with his Rabbi,the author claims that the book "came from the heart."The reader is forced to consider the unanswered question: Is redemption possible? Through journals written by his father we see scenes from the holocaust as well as scenes from Israel's war of independence, which are heartbreakingly, accura
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lovely Green Eyes
  • Playing For Time
  • Anya
  • The List
  • Nine Suitcases: A Memoir
  • The Story of a Life
  • Mosaic: A Chronicle of Five Generations
  • Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance
  • A Pigeon and a Boy
  • The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family's Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World
  • Gertruda's Oath: A Child, a Promise, and a Heroic Escape During World War II
  • The Girls of Room 28: Friendship, Hope, and Survival in Theresienstadt
  • What Papa Told Me
  • Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism
  • Warburg in Rome
  • Leap into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe
  • Songs for the Butcher's Daughter
  • Jerusalem Maiden
Michael Lavigne was born in New Jersey. He currently lives in California with his wife.
More about Michael Lavigne...
The Wanting Canadian Wing Commanders

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“But secrets never, ever disappear, even after they are revealed. And that's the real secret right there. The empty space that never gets filled. The entropy of falsehood. The real secret is the secret itself.” 7 likes
More quotes…