All I Love and Know by Judith Frank

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Matt and Daniel were a happy couple, comfortable with their life in the liberal town of Northhampton, MA – that is, until they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and wife were killed in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.  Dazed by the knowledge that his brother wanted Daniel to raise his two young children should anything happen to him, Daniel and Matt immediately flew over to Jerusalem to confront the situation.  The emotional turmoil and upheaval of their lives that ensues take Daniel and Matt through challenges they never imagined they’d have to face.

There are many layers to this story – the relationship between Daniel and Matt, their relationship with the children they suddenly are responsible for, the political issues surrounding the death of Daniel’s brother, the conflicts between the religious family and their sexual orientation – just to name a few.  And the characters are also very complex – between Matt, who isn’t Jewish and who never imagined being a parent and is thrust into both worlds, Daniel who is grieving in his own complicated way, and Gal, the older of the children who is in kindergarten when her parents are killed.  Their story is told in a simple manner with tactile details that give the story a warm authenticity.  And while there is a lot of love among the characters, there is grief, loss, and fear that each is digesting and this strains the relationship among all of them.  When the end of the book comes, I felt that I’d really experienced this saga with actual people, they all felt so real.

While this is not necessarily a “must read,” it is a powerful story with very real characters that will become your family as you read them.

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