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Not Me

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,407 ratings  ·  307 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, 315 pages
Published February 13th 2007 by Random House Trade (first published November 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,407 ratings  ·  307 reviews

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May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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?
Elyse  Walters
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
--Tender -- satisfying 4.5 rating!!!!
--Funny at appropriate times -- (a few great laughs)
--Insightful -- heartfelt -powerful

Father-son-Father-son-(old age, middle age, young boy, Alzheimer's, Holocaust,
San Francisco -- to Florida...

Wonderful characters -- (dialogue communications).

I absolutely fell in love with the little old ladies who bought Michael a ticket to attend temple services on Yom Kippur.
Oh MY GOSH, they had a WOMAN Rabbi. :)
The older generation "got use to her".....(I'm still smi
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
At first I wasnt taken by Michaels character but as the novel progresses he is growing on me.
I am liking the flow of this story. and the journals are interesting and thought provoking.
The premise that Heinrich/Heshel could have hidden his past from his family is intriguing.The journals disturbing details bring to mind many issues that his son must now deal in order to work out who his father really is.
So I finished reading tonight (01112015) and was a bit disappointed with the ending
I feell it
Great premise, very disappointing execution. Michael Rosenheim goes to Florida to visit his elderly father, Heschel, who is dying and has Alzheimer's disease. One day, Michael finds a journal suggesting his father may not be a Holocaust survivor, but Heinrich Muller, a former SS officer! This book was a lot different than what I expected, and I mean that in a negative way. Based on the summary, I expected it to be some kind of thriller/family drama. Instead, it was very halfbaked literary fictio ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Good Book Fairy
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was completely buying this premise until the midpoint in the book. In fact, the more I read this, the more I felt like I had read it before. It turns out, I had read "Pursuit" by Robert Fish , a thriller which featured...wait for SS officer at the end of WWII who disguises himself as a Jew to escape prosecution for war crimes. I remember liking the thriller much more than this and there were some amazing similarities between the two.
Jennifer Zimny
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: stopped-reading
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
May 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Susan Lerner
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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.

Angela Rosio
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing and very unique holocaust story. A page turner!!! Poses questions about redemption and love; the secrets we hold that can undermine our lives. Not a typical holocaust story (if you've read enough of those). Check out the story review online..give it a try. Read it in 2 days!
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Each time I finish a novel that I love or hate, I find myself reading other reviews before I write my own because I genuinely want to see if someone else thought the same things, had the same impressions, felt the same emotional impact that I did and to discover commonalities in why we agree or disagree on something.

First, I loved this novel. For many reasons. Mostly because it's intelligent and thought provoking and it captures the essence, to me, of what embodies good literature- that blend o
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
"I remember telling him, being born something is just an accident, but how you live your life is your choice."

What do you do when your world falls apart? When you find out that someone very close to you, someone near and dear to your heart, isn't who they've pretended to be all along? Can you ever forgive the worst of crimes - even if someone has the best of intentions? These are all questions that our narrator, Michael, faces when his father, Heshel, plagued with Alzheimer's, hands over a box o
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books
The idea that a middle-aged man realizes his father's whole life is a sham is the heart of this novel and the author does a good job. I like the format of alternating Michael's present day struggle with his father's imminent death and dementia (and really the unraveling of his whole life) with his father's mysterious journals chronically his time during WWII. There is the right amount of suspense. I wish there was more resolution, but I am a person who likes all the loose ends tied up at the end ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book had a very interesting premise. An extremely Jewish family with a secret regarding the fathers role/place during WWII and the Holocaust and the son discovering this secret through his father's journals. There was a lot going on in this book, I found it difficult to stay engrossed in the story as it flipped from the journals to the sons world to the complications with the sons family and his relationship with his own son. It would have been more enjoyable and compelling if the bulk of t ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Holocaust novel with a twist--a son dealing with his father in the end stages of Alzheimer's disease discovers through "mysterious" journals that his father is not the concentration camp survivor he had always believed him to be. Using the journals, the plot alternates from present-day to WWII--it's a good story and well-written, but the present-day plot in particular felt like it was trying too hard (the main character is divorced but still in love with his ex and somewhat estranged from his so ...more
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting book about a son who discovers the mysteries of his fathers life as he deals with Alzheimer's. Heshel Rosenheim was given a set of journals from his father that uncover what he truly was and what he did during the war,. It was interesting as long as the journals were a part of the story but I thought that Hescjel was shallow and petty. He was not taking care of his gayer or family vey well and it got worse as he read the journals. I'd say this book was just ok but had a lot of pot ...more
Chris N
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down! Secrets can tear people apart and when Michael is given his fathers journals his whole life has been turned upside down. Needing to know more about his fathers life proves difficult as his father is in the final stages of dementia. A truly touching story of a man so tormented by his past he did everything in his power to do penance for the remainder of his days and about a son who never truly knew his father.

A powerful and raw read!
Sherri Silvera
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5. I loved the premise of this book but the execution didn't measure up. I don't think I ever connected with the main character. The story of the father was compelling and maybe I would have enjoyed more if there were more journal entries and present day telling was scaled back. The present day story line felt a little "all-over-the-place". The author interview at the end was interesting though. Overall this was a different and thought-provoking read.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars. A new twist to the WWII story. A dying father, a lost son and journals that call the father’s very existence into question. Did he survive the camps or did he, a Nazi, hide in plain sight. This book is a quick read with many threads. The author does a nice job with the main storyline, but there were several others that I’m still curious about.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Michael uncovers a dark secret of his fathers, who is suffering from dementia. He knows his dad a kind hearted Jewish man who is well known for his generosity. But there is more to his past in wwII. SS officers, the Holocaust and the nightmare of the concentration camps all play a role in the man his father eventually becomes.
Ashleigh Osborne
Apr 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Michael is given a box of his father's journals. Reading through the journals Michael now sees the truth about how his father grew up. He has so many questions for his father but he is suffering with Alzheimer's. There was this huge struggle of Michael wanting to know everything but his father wasn't able to tell him. Michael was also struggling with his own love life and the relationship with his son. By the end of the book it seemed like he was able to find some peace. I found myself strugglin ...more
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Michael Lavigne was born in New Jersey. He currently lives in California with his wife.

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“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.” 8 likes
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