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Who by Fire: A Novel (P.S.) [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Diana Spechler

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23. September 2008 P.S.

Bits and Ash were children when the kidnapping of their younger sister, Alena—an incident for which Ash blames himself—caused an irreparable family rift. Thirteen years later, Ash is living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel, cutting himself off from his mother, Ellie, and his wild-child sister, Bits. But soon he may have to face them again; Alena's remains have finally been uncovered. Now Bits is traveling across the world in a bold and desperate attempt to bring her brother home and salvage what's left of their family.

Sharp and captivating, Who by Fire deftly explores what happens when people try to rescue one another.

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“Impressively executed...[The characters’] voices are strong and convincing...Spechler is a talented writer who transcends melodrama and cliche with striking sensitivity and delicate touch.” (Boston Globe)

“In her affecting debut, Spechler raises the question of whether, in rescuing others, we risk ruining ourselves....Spechler’s debut raises provacative questions about religion, violence, and the resilience of families and individuals.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Impossible to put down, Who By Fire is a remarkable tale about fear and forgiveness and the bonds that hold a family together even as its members are falling apart. It’s a beautiful novel.” (Aryn Kyle, bestselling author of THE GOD OF ANIMALS)

“This book got hold of me and wouldn’t let me go, and it’s haunted me ever since I finished. I cannot wait for whatever’s next from Diana Spechler.” (Katrina Kittle, author of THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS)

“Told with grace, humor, and astonishing candor, this is a novel that will break your heart. To call it an extraordinary debut doesn’t do it justice. This is an extraordinary novel, period.” (Cristina Henriquez, author of COME TOGETHER, FALL APART)

“Bits’s adventures as she attempts to bring her brother home and deal with the ensuing family crisis provide this above-average debut novel with plenty of dramatic tension. Add this one to recommended lists of dysfunctional families in fiction.” (Booklist)

“[A] compelling debut novel . . . Spechler’s characters are engaging, and her contemplation of a family in anguish is affecting.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Spechler’s characters are lovable despite their numerous faults, and the story is not just dark but funny. Split among the three family members, the rich and varied narrative offers readers many avenues for enjoyment.” (Library Journal)


[T]here are no defining moments, no cast list stuck to a family's refrigerator door with an alphabet magnet. It's every single thing that happens to a family, the combination of experiences, that determines how they treat each other - from "Who By Fire". When Bits and Ash were children, their younger sister was kidnapped, a tragedy that led to their family's unraveling. Years later, Ash, who always blamed himself for Alena's disappearance, abruptly moved to Israel to become an Orthodox Jew. By the spring of 2002, with the second Intifada at its peak, Ash's new life has consumed him; he wants nothing to do with Bits anymore, or with their mother, Ellie.Bits, a twenty-something wild child living in Boston, who parties too much, consistently destroys her personal relationships, and seeks solace in sex, is almost willing to accept Ash's disappearance, until she hears the news that changes everything: After thirteen years, Alena's remains have been recovered. Now Bits is on her way to Israel to find Ash and bring him home for Alena's funeral.

She becomes obsessed with the idea of salvaging what's left of her family, but she approaches her mission with limited information: She doesn't know about the secrets her mother has been keeping, about the girl who is trying to seduce Ash away from the religious life, about the struggles that her brother is having with his faith. Told from the alternating points of view of the three family members, "Who By Fire" is a searing commentary on guilt, grief, and the inescapable bonds of family from a fresh and extremely talented new voice in American fiction.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  43 Rezensionen
14 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great Family Story 9. Oktober 2008
Von Croooow! - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
OK, full disclosure: I took a class with Diana Spechler over the summer - so I can recommend both her novel and her classes! Obviously, I approached the book with heightened expectations, so I was pleased that by the end of the third chapter I was invested in the characters and interested in seeing where the plot would take me. The characters are believable, and the dialogue is natural, and sometimes painfully real. (I think I'd give the book five stars for the interactions between Bits and Wade alone...) Spechler is especially good at revealing characters slowly, so that by the end of the book, when the reader has seen several of the characters through 3 different pairs of eyes, they have a very different opinion of them than they started with. She does this organically, so it never feels like she's forcing a revelation on the reader, or twisting her characters to make them fit the plot. She did a great job depicting the yeshiva boys - their religious fervor is treated seriously, without ever making them seem like clichés or straw men. I did feel that the chapters were a little too short - I wanted to spend more time on each chapter, and I wanted to spend more time with each character, particularly Bits' mother. But really my biggest critique would be that I wanted it to be longer - the mark of a truly involving book!
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen I couldn't put it down 12. Oktober 2008
Von Cono - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This novel was absolutely amazing. Diana Spechler's writing is graceful and engaging, her characters are vivid, and her story was completely captivating. I loved this book and would recommend it to any fiction fan looking for a great read. Each chapter was told from a different characters perspective with their own unique voice. Diana Spechler flawlessly intertwines them into a heartwarming, funny, yet tragically honest portrayal of the bonds that hold a family together. A wonderful book! I bought a few copies for holiday gifts already and would suggest it for any book club as well.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Get used to the sound of pages turning 14. Juni 2009
Von Michelle Fabio, Bleeding Espresso - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Who by Fire tells the story of Ash and Bits, a brother and sister whose younger sister Alena had been kidnapped more than a decade ago. When their mother informs them that her remains have finally been discovered, it's up to wild child Bits to go to Israel and convince her now Orthodox Jew brother to come home for a memorial service--no easy feat as he's been out of touch with the family since entering the yeshiva.

The book is told from shifting perspectives, really getting into the minds of the various characters. I'm no expert on Orthodox Judaism, so I can't comment on how accurate the scenes in Israel might be, but I do know that I couldn't put this book down.

None of the characters are particularly lovable, at least not for me, but that didn't stop me from devouring this book--I believe it's called the train wreck syndrome. What I mean is that each character is a bit (or a lot) of a mess--the book itself is far from a train wreck. Indeed, it's fabulous.

The plotting, pacing, and writing all shine; I particularly love Spechler's conversational, down-to-earth writing style, which you might not expect in a book with such deep subject matter. Spechler shows that humor has a place everywhere, even when dealing with heavy topics, and this is something that I firmly believe as well.

I give this books five espresso cups out of five. I simply couldn't stop reading, and as I wrote to Diana after I finished, I then found myself imagining what happened to the main characters--the true sign of a great book.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great book for holiday gifting! 29. November 2008
Von Tampa Reader - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I actually found this book in a book store as a "staff pick." I decided to give it a try and I simply could not put the book down. Unfortunately I had purchased the book on a Tuesday and each following day at work, I wanted to go home and finish this book. I was pulled in by the characters and the story's many turns. It is told by the three characters from their respective perspectives, which I enjoyed. When finished, I wished I wasn't. Who By Fire is going to be my gift of choice this holiday season for everyone in my family that loves books. I would recommend it to anyone.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Amazing Debut 2. November 2008
Von Paula S. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I loved this novel! Lots of people have written praise about the themes and the main characters, so I don't want to repeat that, but part of what works so well in this novel are the minor characters and they way they are used. Monica, Jonathan, Wade, David and Todd are all fleshed out, at times weird and creepy, at other times sympathetic, and always interesting. Spechler displays her command of craft by using those characters just enough to add dimension and further plot, without overwhelming the central narrative. It's just one of the many things that make this book amazing.
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