Speaking of reading, my friend Judy‘s second novel came out last week. Judy and I were in residence at MacDowell together during the weeks she finished writing it. Our studios were a few hundred yards apart on narrow MacDowell Road, and during our occasional afternoon walks together, we’d talk about our books-in-progress. I’ve been excited to read this novel since.
When I stopped to visit Judy in Amherst on Memorial Day, she gave me an advance reader copy. The novel is so good that in the days after she gave it to me, I woke up early in the mornings just so I could get in an extra hour or two of reading before work. It’s always exciting when a friend publishes a new piece of writing, but especially so when it’s breathtaking.
All I Love and Know is a novel of startling nuance and breadth. When a Jerusalem cafe bombing kills Daniel’s twin brother, he becomes the guardian of his young niece and nephew. He and his partner Matt navigate a precarious new parenthood, fraught with challenges from the children’s Holocaust-survivor grandparents, the intricacies of Israeli law, the socio-legal complexities of family-building in the months before gay marriage in Massachusetts, and the painful expansion and contraction of love in the wake of grief.
It is a novel that takes place at the intersections of the interpersonal and the geopolitical. And Frank deftly interweaves an incisive parsing of Israeli and LGBT politics with a nuanced insight into the lives and relationships of her two protagonists. It is a novel about twin-dom and parenthood and Israel and the choices that resurface over the course of a life. Judy explores all of this with a compassion that can hold these two men, can encompass their family’s fluctuations and elasticity.
I loved it so much, I bought another, hardcover copy this week. Please make sure you read this book. It’s truly an exceptional piece of writing, and a staggering work.