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My Before and After Life
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My Before and After Life

2.69  ·  Rating Details ·  52 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A story of the sometimes prickly relationship between adult children and their parents

In Risa Miller’s new novel, the first since the highly–acclaimed Welcome to Heavenly Heights—one family member tries on a faith that seems like a bad fit for the rest. Honey and Susan, two sisters in Boston, are shocked to learn that their elderly father has embraced Orthodox Judaism w
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 19th 2010 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kressel Housman
Apr 19, 2010 Kressel Housman rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, jewish
Risa Miller is everything I dream of being. She's the author of two books, a professor of creative writing at a respectable secular college, and was the first woman to receive the PEN Award while wearing a sheitel. So I read this, her second book, not just for enjoyment, but for instruction.

I liked this book even more than her previous one, probably because of the familiar American setting. As the title suggests, it's a teshuva story, ie the story of someone who makes the transition from secular
Jul 12, 2010 Carrie rated it it was ok
In the first part of the book, the author writes as though she is leading up to a big life-changing event. And in the second part, the author writes like there WAS a big life-changing event. But the event itself is really downplayed, and could easily be missed. Additionally, the secondary storyline of the day school was handled horribly and didn't have as much relevance as the author clearly wanted it to have.

In short, this book started out okay, but quickly became a big mess.
Mar 16, 2012 Lara rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2012
This book was very hard to get through. The author seems to be building to a big confrontation between religious Jews and a neighborhood group, with the actual resolution a total let down. (It basically boiled down to, "If the ghost of your mother could see you now, what do you think she'd say?")

On a personal level, the protagonist seems to be struggling with her own religious views after her father becomes a "born again" Jew. Her ending seems just as disappointing as the above.

I've read much be
May 07, 2013 A. rated it it was ok
I REALLY wanted to like "Before and After Life." I wasn't raised in a "frum" family, and had my own experience with teshuva. I certainly have relatives who don't seem to get it (but none who are quite as obstinent about it as Susan and Honey). I've also read many lauditory articles about Risa Miller.

I simply couldn't get into it, but kept reading. As I read further, it became more and more unreadable. I think what I couldn't handle was the way that it felt so scripted and all of the characters
Jan 04, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
Having read Risa Miller's first book, I was eager to pick this one up when it came out. I tried so hard to get through it, but got bored of it halfway through. There just wasn't anything particularly gripping or interesting about it, I didn't like the characters. I wish I had liked it, but I just didn't.
Heather Clawson
Apr 20, 2010 Heather Clawson rated it it was ok
This would have probably been a lot more meaningful read if the main characters had ever managed to actually finish a conversation instead of changing the subject, dropping the subject or swallowing what they were going to say next.
Aug 31, 2014 Mintzis rated it did not like it
An excellent example of why you need to show not tell a story. The conflict never grabbed -- even though I was poised to allow credibility to both sides. The telling was also not very coherent. In all, a disappointing read.
Jessica Keener
Aug 01, 2011 Jessica Keener rated it it was amazing
Stunning exploration of what's spiritual, and how that impulse can threaten or not threaten close relationships.
May 25, 2013 Gail rated it it was ok
This led to some good discussion in book group. But it was poorly written. Could have used a better editor.
Feb 19, 2011 Ellen rated it it was ok
This was okay, but a bit depressing for my taste.
Feb 26, 2010 Anna rated it it was ok
Good writing, but the ending was abrupt and felt very flat. A good read if you have any family that has turned to orthodoxy or fundamentalism, but otherwise probably not worth it.
Elisa J
Aug 13, 2014 Elisa J rated it really liked it
Interesting insight into the feelings you might experience when someone close to you makes a life-changing choice that you don't quite understand.
Mar 28, 2013 Bev rated it liked it
Well written. This book was I
An interesting take on family dynamics. Not dysfunctional but real and thought provoking. In the end it leaves you thinking.
Apr 19, 2010 Erica rated it it was ok
I got through it, which I don't if I don't relate to the characters, but the story just didn't sparkle for me.
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Apr 01, 2010
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