Released just one week after the latest war between Israel and Hamas broke out on July 8, Judith Frank’s new novel seems almost prescient. The second book from Frank, a professor of English at Amherst College and recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, tells the deeply moving story of what happens to an extended family when a young married couple, Ilana and Joel, are killed in a bombing in Jerusalem and orphan their two young children, Gal and Noam.
Devastated, Gal and Noam’s maternal Israeli grandparents, Malka and Yaacov, and paternal American grandparents, Lydia and Sam, as well as Joel’s twin brother, Daniel, and Daniel’s partner, Matt, come together to care for the children. Both sets of grandparents are shocked when they learn that Ilana and Joel have chosen Daniel and Matt as guardians of the children. As the grandparents gradually come to accept this outcome, Daniel and Matt must negotiate the inevitable changes in their own relationship while they learn to parent grieving children practically overnight.
Daniel struggles with his complicated relationship to Israel, historically a source of conflict between him and his dead twin brother.
Despite the tremendous sadness that Frank captures here, “All I Know and Love,” manages to leave the reader uplifted and inspired by the resilience and curative power of the human heart.