Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Good Reads


"Protecting Paige," by Deby Eisenberg

Retracing events from the 1915 Eastland disaster on the Chicago River to the Holocaust and beyond, "Protecting Paige" is a multi-layered historical novel driven by twists, turns, and revelations.

Deby Eisenberg, a local Chicago author, presents a riveting story revolving around Paige, a girl orphaned by a random act of gang violence, her two unlikely saviors, and her discovery of secret tragedies and startling truths at the core of her identity. Opening in Chicago 1962, "Protecting Paige" unfolds during a time of nationwide turmoil and transformation, coinciding with her journey to uncover her family's hidden past-in Paris and Buchenwald. It captures a young woman's coming of age and a man's search for a lost love.

Before the night her father, mother, and brother were murdered, Paige Noble's world was marked by carefree words like fireflies and bubble baths. Waking up, wounded and hazy, in a hospital bed, the 12-year-old soon grasps the meaning of cruel words like gun, death, and orphan. To Paige's relief, her only known relative-her famous uncle Maxwell Noble, a celebrated photojournalist and confirmed bachelor-abruptly leaves his assignment in Europe and welcomes her into his life and home.

Resilient and precocious, Paige quickly adapts to her new unconventional family. Embracing his role as guardian, Maxwell begins to tell his niece about her family history-emphasizing the Jewish roots her French mother, Celine, strove to deny.

When Paige stumbles upon her mother's diary, more secrets-and questions-surface. Gradually, her uncle unfolds the dramatic story of Celine, their complicated relationship during and after the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust, and an aching loss. Together, Maxwell and Paige embark on a quest to find one remaining family member and finally make peace with a legacy of suffering, sacrifice, strength, and survival.

"Protecting Paige" is published by Studio House Literary and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks.

"Why be Jewish? A Testament" by Edgar Bronfman

"Why be Jewish?" is Edgar Bronfman's final book. He completed it just weeks before his death in December 2013.

Bronfman makes a compelling case for the meaning and transcendence of a secular Judaism steeped in deep moral values, traditional texts, and a focus on deed over creed or dogma. "Why be Jewish?" is an honest, poignant, and passionate, primer on Jewish history and tradition infused with lessons gleaned from Bronfman's own personal journey. 

In the book, Bronfman provides a path for secular Jews to find value and life-lessons in:

• Traditional texts like the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, rabbinic commentaries, and exegesis from oral tradition.

• The Jewish tradition of encouraging independent thinking and debate with God.

• The holidays and holy days of the Jewish calendar and the values of family and tradition inherent in the observation of those traditions.

• The moral imperatives of charity, loving kindness, repair of the world, and repair of one's own spiritual life. 

"Why be Jewish?" expresses Edgar Bronfman's awe, respect, and deep love for his faith and heritage, and offers a way for secular Jews to create a meaningful practice and identity of their own.

Published by Twelve Books, "Why be Jewish?" is available in hardcover, eBooks and audio.

"In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer," by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong

Much like "The Diary of Anne Frank," "In My Hands" is a profound testament to individual courage.

When the war began, Irene Gut was just 17-a student nurse, a Polish patriot, a good Catholic girl. As the war progressed, she was stripped of her family, her home, and her innocence. Forced to work in a German officers' dining hall, she learned how to fight back.

Gut eavesdropped on the Germans' plans. She smuggled people out of the work camp, and she his 12 Jews in the basement of a Nazi major's home.

"In My Hands" is the story of one teenage girl's remarkable feats of bravery in the face of unbelievable odds.

Irene Gut Opdyke received international recognition for her actions: She was presented with the Israel Medal of Honor and a special commendation from the Vatican. She traveled throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe recounting her story at thousands of schools, synagogues and churches until her death in 2003.

"In My Hands" is published by Random House Children's Books for ages 14 and up, and is available in paperback and ebooks.

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," by John Boyne

This is a new 10th-anniversary edition of this book. Since 2006, this powerful and unforgettable story has touched millions of readers around the world.

The story unfolds from 9-year-old Bruno's point of view. It is 1942 in Berlin. He returns home from school one day to discover the family is moving because his father received a promotion. He blames the "Fury" for changing his life. They move far away to a place called "Out-With," where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts Bruno off from the strange people on the other side.

Bruno surmises that the name of the place is Out-With because the former owners of the house were told to move. So it was "out-with the old, in with the new." The real name of this place is much more sinister.

Bruno begins exploring his new surroundings and meets a boy about his age on the other side of the fence. A friendship develops between the two boys that has devastating consequences.

"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is published by Random House Children's Books, for ages 12 and up, and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks.

"Alligator Candy: A Memoir," by David Kushner

From award-winning journalist David Kushner, a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and other premier outlets, "Alligator Candy" is a riveting reported memoir in the vein of James Ellroy's "My Dark Places" about how a family survives an unthinkable tragedy.

Kushner grew up in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida, in the early 1970s. One morning in 1973, when he was only 4 years old, his 11-year-old brother Jon was kidnapped while biking home from the local convenience store and murdered in the woods near their home.

Decades later, one of Jon's killers received a parole hearing and Kushner, known for his true-crime reportage, used his extensive investigative reporting skills on himself to uncover the full story behind the tragedy that shaped his own life.

More than a chronical of Jon's death, "Alligator Candy" presents a unique perspective on how parenting in America changed since the '70s, casting light on the transition between two generations of children-one raised on freedom, the other on fear. Jon's death was one of the first in what turned out to be a rash of child abductions and murders that dominated headlines for much of the '70s and '80s.

While haunting and at time disturbing, "Alligator Candy" is a deeply moving meditation on grief, growth, family, and the unwavering power of love.

Published by Simon & Schuster, "Alligator Candy" is available in hardcover and eBooks.

"Lists for Living, Lists for Life: Secrets for getting the most out of life in 145 easy-to-read lists," by Myrna Ossin

Author Myrna Ossin lives right here in Altamonte Springs and using her personal experiences as a working mother of four who has taught and lectured for more than 45 year, she has written a book to help others maximize their time and resources.

Filled with countless hints of living better, "Lists for Living, Lists for Life" is the definitive list book for those who want to streamline their lives. It contains 145 lists, covering almost every aspect of organizing daily life-houses, cars, relationships, gardening, guarding one's health, raising children, taking care of the elderly, and managing a career or office.

This is a must-have encyclopedic reference book for everyone.

Published by Ossi Publications, "Lists for Living, Lists for Life" is available in paperback and eBooks.


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