The erotic awakening and mental disintegration of an intense young man who leaves home and enters the phantasm of Israel.
It's just another boring summer for our teenaged narrator - until Barbra arrives. An Ethiopian Jew, Barbra was brought to Israel at age five, a part of Operation Solomon, and now our narrator's well-intentioned father has brought her, as a teen, to their home for the summer. But Barbra isn't the docile and grateful orphan they expect, and soon our narrator, terrified of her and drawn to her in equal measure, finds himself immersed in compulsive psychosexual games with her, as she binge-drinks and lies to his family. Things go terribly wrong, and Barbra flees. But seven years later, as our narrator is getting his life back on track, with a new girlfriend and a master's degree in Holocaust Studies underway, Barbra shows up at our narrator's house once again, her "spiritual teacher" in tow, and our narrator finds his politics, and his sanity, back in question.
“Berger’s prose is entrancing and lacerating; the deeply inquisitive and disturbing story she so commandingly tells is, by turns, hilarious, obscene, horrifying, and tragic as her damaged characters thrash out the paradoxes of Jewish identity; Israel’s standing as both sanctuary and prison; and humankind’s endlessly intricate entanglement with power and pain.” – Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Raw, powerful, political, and compassionate, albeit with sharp elbows."– Amber Sparks