When New York journalist Natasha Bernstein loses her job and discovers her fiance has been keeping a dark secret, her world collapses. Turning to her family, she takes inspiration from her formidable grandmother Esther, who runs a community centre in downtown Manhattan. As she starts to rebuild her life, Natasha’s friendship with Rafi – the enigmatic architect working on Esther’s centre – restores her sense of wonder at the world and her faith in who she is. But when Rafi and Natasha take a trip to Jerusalem, they are plunged into a story far deeper than their own. Here, questions of family and loyalty mean more than life itself, and they must ask themselves what they are ultimately prepared to fight for. In a divided world, is it history or love that makes us who we are?
Natasha is a successful journalist but her life quickly seems to fall apart when she loses her job after taking a risk on a story. Around the same time, she finds out that her fiancé has been keeping a secret from her. In her time of crisis, she turns to her family, especially her inspirational grandmother, Esther who runs a community centre in downtown Manhattan.
Natasha tries to rebuild her life and so she begins to collaborate with her grandmother by agreeing to write her memoirs. Esther is a survivor of the holocaust. She is a strong and formidable character and I warmed to her straight away – I think because of how she was portrayed. It reminded me a bit of my own Nan and I liked that (although the two women don’t share the same history.) As a result of this, she was probably one of my favourite characters.
Natasha is probably the main focus of the book. I could empathise with her a little in the sense that everything seems to happen at once for her and she seems a little lost and overwhelmed to begin with – I can certainly relate to that. I felt sorry for her.
As Natasha begins research on the book, she starts to form a friendship with Rafi (the architect who is working on Esther’s community centre.) I liked this relationship – I liked how both these characters developed throughout the story. The friendship (and romance that follows,) helps restore Natasha’s feelings about her life and the world around her. Rafi was a perfect love interest. He seemed very lovely and likable but his history wasn’t straightforward and has its complications.
I found the plot of this book interesting. There is a love story but I feel that the main focus of this book is all the different types of relationships like that of family. Natasha’s family seemed quite solid despite them all going in slightly different directions. There is also a section of the book which mentions Israel and the conflicts that are occurring in that region. Whilst still conducting research, Natasha and Rafi take a trip to Jerusalem. I found that interesting (particularly Rafi’s situation in the story) and as it’s a topical subject, it made me feel quite emotional. This book gave me a point of view I’d not really thought about before. I feel that Clemency has tackled a difficult subject well and with care.
This book overall is a slow burner but it’s certainly thought-provoking and it’s one that I couldn’t stop reading. It’s about love and trust and how our history defines us as people. I really did love this book. I finished reading it at the beginning of the summer and I am still thinking about it weeks later.
All The Things You Are is published by Headline Review and I thank them for a review copy.
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