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The Fortune Teller's Kiss

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  120 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
There was always the incantation: “Whoever wishes you harm, may harm come to them!” And just in case that didn’t work, there were garlic and cloves to repel the Evil Eye—or, better yet, the dried foreskin from a baby boy’s circumcision, ground to a fine powder. But whatever precautions Brenda Serotte was subjected to, they were not enough. Shortly before her eighth birthda ...more
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by University of Nebraska Press (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Ruth Segal
Jun 26, 2008 Ruth Segal rated it it was amazing
A compelling and readable memoir about a woman who gets polio at the age of seven. I learned a huge amount I didn't know. Not only about polio but about Sephardic Jews. Her family is made up of a wild mixture of spanish and turkish very jewish very intense people. Her mother gives me the chills, for quite personal reasons and I am mind-blown by how much compassion the author has for her mother. Also moving to me personally was the fact that much of the story takes place in the New York neighborh ...more
Karen
Jul 01, 2011 Karen rated it it was ok
There was way too much going on in this book...though I was sympathetic to the author's struggle with polio, I just didn't think the book was particularly engaging or interesting. The Sephardic information is okay, but I found the book to be very repetitive and not especially well-written.
Pam Warner
Finding thi book hard to read. Only in PDF. Will skip for now.
Audrey
Sep 04, 2011 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the true story of a young Sephardic Jewish girl living in Brooklyn in the 1950's. At the age of 8, she develops polio and her life completely changes. It is a story of the old world of gypsies and fortune tellers meeting the new world of hospitals and exreme medical treatments. Well written and interesting. It is particularly interesting due to my family background with my father who developed polio as a child and also lived in Brooklyn.
Lauren
Aug 10, 2007 Lauren rated it it was amazing
The author was my mother's best friend growing up in the Bronx and they are still the best of friends today. My mom and my grandparents are talked about in the novel too! I was so moved by this novel.
Paula Korelitz
Jun 23, 2012 Paula Korelitz rated it liked it
I wasn't crazy about the writing, but I was very interested in both her experiences as a polio victim and her cultural life as a Turkish Sephardic Jew.
Adele
Mar 23, 2014 Adele rated it really liked it
It's an interesting read about the author's experiences and life as a child with polio (1954) and its sociocultural ramifications of dealing with the disease. The medical world into which she was thrust was not often kind and quite shocking by today's standards. On a positive note, her time at Rusk was much better and certainly quite productive.

Her mother, difficult at best, often did not seem very supportive nor [overtly] loving. Her father, on the other hand (and I'm thinking probably unusuall
...more
Ssadow
Oct 22, 2008 Ssadow added it
That with enough strength you can do miracles.
Sandra Lambert
Feb 23, 2008 Sandra Lambert rated it really liked it
Reviewed on my weblog www.sandralambert.com
Janet Masonberg
Jan 25, 2016 Janet Masonberg rated it really liked it
the true story of a young Sephardic Jewish girl living in Brooklyn in the 1950s. At the age of 8 she develops polio and her life completely changes. It is the story of the old world of gypsies and the fortune tellers meeting the new world of hospitals and extreme medical treatments.
Mary
May 23, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
It was interesting to read about this Sephardic family and I also learned a lot about polio. It takes place over a fairly short period of time during the author's life and I was disappointed in not only the end but also, the fact that we never learned about the rest of the her life.
Suzanne Hughes
Feb 18, 2014 Suzanne Hughes rated it liked it
Memoir from the 1950's during a big polio epidemic. I was very interested in both her experiences as a polio victim and her cultural life as a Turkish Sephardic Jew. I knew people in high school who had contracted polio but never was aware of the challenges the experience caused.
Ellen Pilch
Apr 02, 2014 Ellen Pilch rated it it was amazing
This book was not only a great memoir, but also very educational. The author is a Sephardic Jew and explained a lot of her culture. All the books I have read about Jewish people have been about Ashklenazi Jewish people (from Europe). There is quite a difference.

This poor woman had polio as a child and suffered a great deal trying to recover. I had no idea that physical therapy existed back then- a much harsher version of todays. The book kept me interested from page one to the end. I was also f
...more
Cheryl
Sep 07, 2015 Cheryl rated it really liked it
The book describes a time and a place that I knew nothing about. The stories of her polio and her families life in NYC were very interesting. I had no idea that there were Jewish Turks living and maintaining their culture.
Virginia Harrell
Jun 06, 2016 Virginia Harrell rated it did not like it
Not all that well written - train of thought not cohesive, sentences could be more precise. Much of her anger, fear definitely exhibited.
Lisa
May 17, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
Interesting, very readable but I did not feel that I knew the author much better at the end.
Phyllis Faber
Apr 06, 2016 Phyllis Faber rated it really liked it
It kind of takes you back to years ago growing up. Enjoyable.
Cora
Jun 22, 2013 Cora rated it it was amazing
I know the author and met her mother who was really funny when not behind her cold exterior which I now realize was her way of not showing her conflicting feelings about her daughter's contacting polio. And her husband's gambling. Maybe she felt that would make Brenda strong to cope with her disability. Bye the way Brenda is an amazing woman who has accomplished a great deal and inspires other writers through her writing and teaching. And the father daughter relationship is very important in her ...more
Joanne Gotto
Sep 01, 2012 Joanne Gotto rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I just finished this book for my book club. It was well written, funny and sad at times and very engaging. It was very interesting to read it from a healthcare perspective viewing the 1950's and also what it was like prior to the ADA (disabilities) ruling being in place. Things that we take for granted now like wheelchair access and mainstreaming in the schools were not in place at the time that this story takes place.
Susan
Dec 09, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It is a true story written from the eyes of a Sephardic Jewish woman from immigrant parents who had polio as a child (in the Bronx). Because the polio epidemic was before I was born, it was really a fascinating look at the impact of the polio epidemic to the American culture and how polio victims were treated. It is also a fascinating, fun look at a family of Sephardic Jews.
Elise
Jan 21, 2013 Elise rated it it was ok
The disjointed telling of this true story of a polio victim made took away from the story. The timeline jumped all over, and nuggets of Brenda's famiy life and relatives were thrown in which seem to have no relevance to the story. While it was interesting to read about her and her family's struggles, there was a lot of flotsam thrown in which took away from the book.
Shanna
This autobiographical novel was my book group's June pick; I loved learning about Sephardi Jews and their culture set against the background of New York. Brenda Serotte's story is truly tragic and highlights a dark part of US history: the polio epidemic. I was enthralled by her story and learned much about her life and her customs.
Carol
Feb 12, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Interesting information about Sephardic Jews and a profound description of what is was like to be a child with polio in the 1950's. The isolation, fear, and triumphs were presented well, but the book became boring about 2/3 of the way. I did enjoy reading how both of her parents reacted to her situation.
Sara Cat
Jul 11, 2014 Sara Cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's a memoir, not a novel, and feels like it. An interesting look at being in the polio epidemics in NYC, which is more what the book is about than the cultural piece. Writing is adequate to at times very good, especially toward the end. I'd imagine there is a sequel coming.
Sue
Mar 26, 2014 Sue rated it liked it
I've noted it because the Agudas book club will be reading it for August.

A memoir of growing up in the Bronx, in a Sephardic Turkish family, & of contracting polio at the age of 7. I found the polio aspects of the memoir most interesting, the rest of the book less so.
Cindie Harp
This shook up my preconceptions about all Sephardi families being affectionate -- and really the story was more about Brenda's polio than anything else. Still, an interesting romp about life in the 50's in NYC. And the food descriptions made me drool!
Helen
Aug 09, 2013 Helen rated it really liked it
I really liked tis story as it was about Sephardic Jews from Turkey, a group I don't know anything about, and their second generation experience in the Bronx during the 1950's
Laurie
Jul 28, 2013 Laurie rated it liked it
I learned a great deal about the Sephardic culture and also polio I found it very witty and well written from a young girl's memory.
Lisa Pfeffer
May 16, 2011 Lisa Pfeffer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-shelf
An excellent story of a young girl's strength and determination to walk again after she contracts polio
Regmg1
Apr 01, 2012 Regmg1 rated it really liked it
Very good. About author's early life. Family are Sphardic Jews. Also read fortunes.
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