Friday, September 25, 2009
The Shiksa Syndrome by Laurie Graff -- Book Review
When I first finished reading "The Shiksa Syndrome," I wanted to say that I didn’t like it. I wanted to say that because it frustrated me. On far more than one occasion, I was arguing and groaning in irritation with Aimee Albert, the main character and the woman through whose perspective we read the story. Then I realized that more than anything, the book was effective. It engaged me and got me emotionally involved. Laurie Graff did her job and did it well.
Aimee is a Jewish woman who loves being Jewish, but her boyfriend doesn’t seem all that into what being Jewish means to her. She decides, therefore, to find a Jewish man to date. But the more she looks around, the more she discovers that all the eligible Jewish men are dating non-Jewish women. Intentionally. So when she and her non-Jewish best friend Krista are at a kosher wine tasting and in walks gorgeous, rich, and Jewish Josh Hirsch, Aimee doesn’t correct him when he assumes she isn’t Jewish.
In fact, she sees this seemingly minor omission of her identity the linchpin of her success at keeping Josh for a boyfriend. Lies build upon lies, and Aimee’s true identity is buried beneath the layers until she’s not sure exactly who she is anymore—the shiksa (non-Jewish woman) Josh wants her to be, or the Jew she knows she is.
What I do take issue with in the book is that it presents the vast majority of Jewish men as completely uninterested in being Jewish and finding a sort of status in dating a non-Jewish woman. It does focus on a very New York Jewish dating culture, with which I’m not familiar, so maybe some of it is regional.
I was annoyed with Aimee for her subterfuge and for betraying who she is. I was annoyed with Josh for being so dismissive about his Jewishness. But I fought and laughed and cried along with the characters, and kept thinking about the story long after I’d closed the cover, which is really at the heart of what makes a good read.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation, not even a copy of the book, in return for this review. In fact, I found the book in the new fiction section of the library and it looked interesting so I checked it out. And it stuck with me enough I had to blog about it.