From Publishers Weekly
A woman hopes a family trip to Israel will help her reclaim her confused, rebellious son in Hamburger's entertaining, irreverent first novel (after the collection The View from Stalin's Head). Jeremy's been at NYU for five years, but he's still just a junior, and Helen Michaelson, 58, thinks he might have a much-needed spiritual awakening on the "Michigan Miracle 2000" tour. But while Jeremy's more interested in cruising Jerusalem's gay parks, Helen herself is primed for revelation, as she finds that her connection to Judaism and her family is more complicated than she'd thought. Hamburger has an exacting eye for mundane detail and suburban conventions, and in Jeremy he's created the classic green-haired, pierced college student ranting about social injustice. But beneath Jeremy's sarcastic, moralizing banter, there's a convincing critique of Americans' way of being in the world. In Israel in 2000, the Michaelsons are like Pixar creations trapped in a movie filmed in Super 8âthe Middle East may be fraught with political tension, but their biggest problem is the heat outside their air-conditioned bus. Hamburger goes further than witty satire, though, and when the plot takes a dark turn he demonstrates that he's capable of taking on global issues, even if his characters aren't.
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With humor and insight, Hamburger explores the cultural tension between the nation of Israel and American Jews through the story of the Michaelsons. Helen, the daughter of Russian immigrants, is married to a psychologist suffering from a slow-burning cancer. They have two gay sons. The youngest, Jeremy, is an NYU student and recent suicide-attempt survivor. Helen decides a trip to Jerusalem is what her family needs. With high hopes, she signs them up for the Michigan Miracle 2000. However, they soon feel as if they are in a tourist trap. Helen and Jeremy are driven by a connection to faith to escape the prepackaged experience, albeit in bizarre ways. Helen has an affair with the hirsute rabbi leading the tour group, and Jeremy falls in love with a deaf Palestinian named George. Hamburger engages the reader with wonderfully flawed characters and through the history, legend, and propaganda of modern Jewish life. This novel is highly recommended for anyone who is drawn to stories of family affected by the global political context of everyday life. Andrea Japzon
Copyright Â© American Library Association. All rights reserved
I did'nt really care for this book but I'm not one to not finish a book so I painfully read until the end. Ok story but I guess it just wasn't my thing.