Neshama’s Choices for November 27th

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The Possibilities by Yael Goldstein-Love  

Another novel with a multi-verse theme, this time from a mother’s perspective.  Hannah is having a very bad day, schlepping her baby to an appointment with her therapist because her husband has just told her he’s had enough. The baby’s birth was traumatic and ever since, she’s always been braced for calamity.  She leaves the baby in the stroller in the hallway to retrieve her keys up a flight of stairs, and when she returns, he’s nowhere, and even the surroundings seem changed. Turns out she can tap into other “possibilities”-- what might have been—and embarks on a terrifying journey to get the baby back. A couple, of scientists who knew her mother who also can move through other dimensions, provided some help. (Of course, their cat’s name is Schrodinger.) Set in Berkeley and SF with an amazing scene above a homeless encampment, high up under the freeway. The author is also a therapist.   

Holding Pattern by Jenny Xie  

Kathleen’s love life has tanked. She returns home to her mom in Oakland, graduate school scuttled, and needs something to do other than helping with her mother’s upcoming wedding—a big surprise. Enter a bizarre enterprise, Midas Touch, which offers cuddling sessions for lonely people. She ends up working there until one client gets too serious and obviously time to disengage and get on with her life. Interesting interplay between Chinese cultural mores and California intimacies and witty descriptions of the panoply of available cuddles.  

Little Monsters by Adrian Brodeur  

Adam, 70, an esteemed oceanographer, is in the grip of his bipolar condition.  He thinks he’s discovered the secret of a rare whale song.  His offspring, brash Ken and introverted Abby plan to give their dad a big party. Tensions between them focus on her studio—Ken is her landlord. He has enormous political ambition. She is working on a huge painting as a gift for Dad. And out of the woodwork comes Steph, Adam’s daughter from a one-night stand, revealed through DNA. What a magnificent petri dish of family tensions. Cape Cod setting. A very satisfying read.  

Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath  

I discovered this writer, who’s also an artist and an anthropologist, through an interview on the radio station KWMR, and was intrigued. Thus, I discovered this extraordinary book, cataloged as a young adult and written in poetic form. Both aspects might be initially off-putting, but they work directly and universally. The Armenian genocide in 1915 in which a family is sundered and the three remaining children embark on an incredibly perilous journey to safety with an eagle watching over them and offering support.  Yes, it’s magical realism, but it felt absolutely right. Powerful, beautiful, unique.