Image of The Sisters Weiss


Image of The Sisters Weiss

Like Chaim Potok, Ragen focuses on faith, family and the desire for artistic freedom as she builds a bridge between past and present. Her clear prose allows her characters to leap from the pages and readers to sympathize with them and com- pletely understand their motivations. By delving into the religious (Hasidic) community she exposes the sisters’ struggle between their faith and longing for the freedom to express themselves as women. This is a story many women of different faiths can connect with as they struggle to find their personal heaven.

Growing up in an Orthodox Jewish home in 1950s Brooklyn, Rose Weiss and her younger sister, Pearl, would never think of rebelling against their parents’ or community’s rigid adherence to tradition. Rose is bold and naïve, not realizing that when a new school friend shows her a book of photographs that Rose brings home it will change her world. Her family’s discovery of the book changes Rose’s life, eventually forcing her to choose between her family and faith and her dream of being a photographer. When she runs off the night before her wedding, it means many changes and dangers for Rose, Pearl and their family. That decision separates the sisters for 40 years until Pearl’s daughter, Rivka, enters Rose’s life. Longing to be like her aunt and discover the world, Rivka flees Brooklyn. Seeing this young woman compels Rose to look back on her choices and find the best way to help Rivka, even if it means reconnecting with the sister she deserted and the life she turned her back on. (ST. MARTIN’S, Oct., 320 pp., $24.99)
Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith