Book Review of The Adventures of Mona Pinsky

The Adventures of Mona Pinsky
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From Publishers Weekly
As sweet and well-meaning as its title character, a 64-year-old restaurant hostess, this mystery is also as scatterbrained. Ziskin (The Blind Eagle) has created a sympathetic heroine, but the story is so full of flaky zigs and zags that it addles the pate. At work one day, Mona overhears a group of suit-clad men talking about a project. At first she assumes it is business-related, but she changes her mind when she also hears them mentioning "crime" and "robbery," and begins investigating?spurred on when robberies begin to occur in the very area they were discussing. Mona's daughter, Adina, and Adina's husband, Gideon?a prissy architect busy designing a new prison?wish she'd get respectable, quit her job and stop talking and acting like a crazy person. Their concern is understandable in light of the voices Mona hears in the night and her belief that her dead Uncle Gabe is trying to warn her of impending danger. Although each brief chapter is given a date and location, aiding orientation some, there are so many odd coincidences and mystical connections here that it becomes difficult to keep track of the whodunit at the center of the plot. Despite all the red herrings, the solution is obvious.

In this adventurous tale filled with magic and myth, sixty-five-year-old Mona Pinsky uncovers a plot of political manipulation and theft. She faces ridicule, anti-Semitism, and ageism as well as alienation from her daughter, but Mona refuses to be silenced. She uncovers the inner strength to stand by her convictions and to speak out on an enchanting and heroic journey.

My notes:
While reading this, I found that I really sympathized with the main character, a 65 year old lady who overhears some business men discussing crime in her quiet town of Jasmine. As the men return to the restaurant where Mona is hostess, she hears more snippets of their conversation and is convinced they're up to no good. However, when she tries to warn the police, the Mayor, it seems no one will believe her. After all, she is the crazy old Jewish woman in this sheltered town, not to mention that she's friendly with one of the only black women around. Why should she be telling the truth? Even her own family has a hard time, with Mona's son-in-law trying to win a county contract to build a new jail, the last thing he wants is for his mother-in-law to be stirring up trouble. Throughout this book you just end up hoping that someone will listen to her story and help to stop the recent wave of vandalism and robberies.

This book is full of dreams and visions that Mona sees, of her Uncle Gabe, other heavenly symbols, and various references to Jewish angels. While her visions often related to other characters in the story, I felt a little lost without knowing much Jewish folklore. There is probably much more symbolism contained in the book than I realize, and it's mildly unfortunate that I don't understand all of it.