King of the Class
Imagine an Israel in the not-so-distant future — post-traumatic religious civil war resulting in two states: Shalem, an observant land ruled by halacha, and Israel, a secular land complete with kibbutzniks. Both are still at the mercy of hostile nations in their region.
This is the backdrop for Gila Green’s first novel, which includes young people trying to discover their connection to Judaism and becoming ba’al tshuva, a dose of mysticism and events that unfold due to simple parental greed. The author is meticulous is describing the relationships of those on different sides of the religious dividing line. It is a cautionary tale of how families must ultimately work together in times of crisis and how children can be manipulated by parents to unkind ends.
However, it is the mystical portion of Green’s story that invites the reader into the mind of the main character, Eve, and allows us to suffer and kvell with her as she considers and reconsiders her future. The novel is less successful in persuading the reader that Jews should pursue their religious differences to the ultimate division. Perhaps that is the author’s final gift — Israelis and all Jews need to find common ground to successfully survive. It is a novel worth reading.