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From Sand and Ash
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September 2020: Other Books > From Sand and Ash - Amy Harmon; 3.5 stars?

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8278 comments *Spoilers? Atmospheric or Otherwise? Perhaps if you are one of the people who are reading this together this month, consider if you want this early impression that you might not share. If you want to discover this book for yourself, or possibly be turned away before you can swept up in your own impression.

I've always said its dangerous to have too high expectations for a book. And this one was set up to hit every note for me. It should have. Its not necessarily the writing, I would read more of Amy Harmon. The setting of WW2 is a familiar one for me, and usually a sure hit. And the priest/Jew angle was a newer slant. A little over the top, as these things are inevitably constructed. I did like the beautiful metaphor of sand to ash. Its true that I love WW2 fiction, and that with the sheer amount of extraordinary world war two novels, the bar is set extremely high. It has to be phenomenal to stand up.

I think one of the things that didn't sit right with me, that might not have bothered anyone else, was the constant explaining of Jewish ritual and its underlying meanings. Maybe if either I didn't know all of that intimately, or rather I think maybe had Angelo reacted to it by thinking about his own spirituality, and where that fit. At least in The Light of Hidden Candles, a similar dynamic, you really see the Catholic wrestle with his own spirituality on a deeper level. Its not just love versus a deep connection to one's religious lens and spirituality. You have to be able to wrestle with your spirituality to integrate so deep a chasm. I got it about how part of being a servant of God, means that you become part of the resistance when humanity is threatened. That he loved this family and saw Jews as humans and worth saving. And that he loved her, and she him since childhood. But in order to love someone, when two people are both so deeply spiritual as part of their core, this has to align, or at least have conversations about spirituality and what draws and connects. I never got how his religion filled him. What it meant and how he connected with it or felt sustained. Or what he understood about her, and who she was. Its almost like their love had nothing to do with who they were. It was hard to really know who the characters were and how they were connected. All the rest was the plot device. I think the book was enjoyable. It just missed a little something. I would have liked to understand more about the early loss of their mothers, her relationship with the violin. That kind of depth was present around Angelo's relationship to his lost leg, and a bit in Camillo's relationship with her. But it fell short for me. I wonder if I would have felt that way if were learning about Judaism for the first time. If that would make me feel like I knew Eva better. But I didn't really know her at all, apart from her blind love for Angelo, and other attachment figures. There were other tropes I found trite, although I was willing to go with it for the sake of the story. It wasn't top ten material. I don't think its a book that ultimately stays with me. But did I enjoy it? Find it interesting? Absolutely. I'm also glad I finally got to it.


message 2: by Holly R W (last edited Sep 08, 2020 10:11AM) (new)

Holly R W | 1160 comments I haven't read this book, but am attempting to read Gilead, which is about a minister whose Christianity and vocation is central to who he is. As I read, I am relating some of the practices to our Jewish customs. For example, he talks about baptism and in my mind's eye, I'm relating it to the mikvah. I find religion and belief to be fascinating.

You write, "Its not just love versus a deep connection to one's religious lens and spirituality. You have to be able to wrestle with your spirituality to integrate so deep a chasm." I think that's very true. I know of a couple where the wife is a minster and the husband is a Jewish cantor. They participate in each other's worship services and have created a good marriage.


message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8278 comments I love it too Holly. I wish there were more of that connection from Angelo.


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