|Photo Credit - Amazon|
The only thing Eran Sharon knows of his father is that he left when he was a baby. Eran is a senior in high school who is living with his overly protective mother who refuses to talk about his father. Eran is deeply passionate about social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a new program to increase traffic stops, he organizes a peaceful protest with this classmates.
When a heated moment between two protestors goes viral, a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier. The reporter asked if Eran is anything like his father who is a supposed terrorist. After finding out about his father, Eran wonders how much alike he is with his father. He worries, even more, when people he knew for years start treating him differently.
The novel isn't usually my choice genre but, I found the book to be an emotional read. I sometimes wonder if the "sins of the father" should be passed on to the children and to which degree do we inherit our personality. I thought the novel was an interesting read on how forgiveness and perception.
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Publisher: Candlewick (October 15, 2019)
Praise for WHAT MAKES US
What Makes Us is a heart-stopping, heartbreaking read — a book full of heart. Mittlefehldt’s thoughtful, nuanced exploration of identity pulled me in from the very first page, and I could barely put it down. Eran’s story takes a universal coming-of-age theme — finding out your parents aren’t who you thought they were — to a tightly wound and thrilling extreme. Most important, this book provides satisfying, much-needed representation of a contemporary, complex Jewish teen and his family. ―Lisa Rosinsky, author of Inevitable and Only
Provocative. ―Kirkus Reviews
Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest.
But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently.
Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.
Photo Credit: Damien Mittlefehldt
Shortly after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, I read an article that mentioned one of the bombers having left behind a wife and three-year-old daughter. It was a throwaway line, but it stuck with me — I couldn’t stop thinking about that girl, who was too young to understand what had happened. When would she find out who her father was, and how would she process that? How would others react to learning about her family history? Would she keep it a secret? Would her mother?
What Makes Us began very simply as a story exploring those questions. But as I fleshed out the two main characters, Eran and Jade, their personalities took the story deeper, toward matters that are personal to me but relatable to so many. Eran’s volatility and tendency to react instinctively force him to confront issues of impulse control and anger management. And both characters’ uncertainty regarding their own pasts compels them to wrestle with self-determination and to ask, What makes a person? As the novel switches between Eran’s and Jade’s perspectives, we see them reluctantly frame and then try to answer this question, all against the backdrop of a community on the brink of chaos.
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