Oh, I liked this book. The main character, Leo Gursky – a large, old, lonely, Jewish, Polish immigrant living in New York City – reminded me of the protagonist in A Confederacy of Dunces. Alternate chapters focus on fourteen-year-old Alma, holding her mother and brother upright after the death of her father and, meanwhile, searching for her namesake. The novel bounces back and forth between Leo and Alma, slowly and remarkably bringing their stories together in a very satisfying way.
Some passages I underlined:
“No jew was safe. There were rumors of unfathomable things, and because we couldn’t fathom them we failed to believe them, until we had no choice and it was too late.” p. 8
“I started to write again. I did it for myself alone, not for anyone else, and that was the difference.” p. 9
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” p. 11
“…she’d be there, looking out the window or into a glass of water as if there were a fish in it that only she could see.” p. 44
“Perhaps that is what it means to be a father – to teach your child to live without you. If so, no one was a greater father than I.” p. 164