Fall Book Calendar
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In the winning latest from chick lit–ster Graff (LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG), Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert, who is Jewish and whose first love, Sam, died during 9/11, has just split with her goy boyfriend Peter McKnight. Desperate for a Jewish husband and children reared in the faith, Aimee, relying on an imagined Jewish male penchant for non-Jewish women (shiksas), loses mega poundage on a "Depression Diet," straightens and dyes her dark hair red, pops in green contacts and becomes a Shiksa Barbie. Gentile co-worker Krista Dowd drags the new Aimee to a Jewish mixer, where Krista hooks up with Matt Goldman, a Jewish CPA, and Aimee meets GQ-cute Josh Hirsch, who runs LoveLoaves, a lucrative family business, and who only dates shiksas. For her part, Aimee soon discovers how lies can escalate into self-destruction and self-enlightenment. Graff's prose crackles with winning wit, making her potentially annoying conceit go down like a chocolate-covered macaroon.
Saturating this fluffy romantic comedy of errors is a more subtle commentary about religion and identity that raises the question: How much of yourself do you have to give up in order to be with someone else?
THE SHIKSA SYNDROME paints a comical yet disarmingly accurate picture of the Reform singles scene in New York, describing to a T the Jewish singles events, dates to "kosher style" restaurants and Jewish men's perceptions of non-Jewish women. Sprinklings of Yiddish vocabulary throughout the book and cute chapter titles such as "Boy Vey" and "The Accidental Tsuris," along with equally cute dialogue engage the reader till the last page, and the plot, though somewhat far-fetched at certain points, is certainly entertaining.
While the book is a light, fun read, the author also attempts (successfully) to grapple with some issues facing modern American Jewry, such as cultural assimilation and intermarriage and, amid the dead-on descriptions of Jewish life in New York, slips in many profound observations.
Laurie Graff toggles between Jewish and gentile stereotypes to highlight Aimee's stumbling journey to self-discovery, which provides some funny moments.
So does it really take a shiksa to get a Jewish man? Jewish Aimee Albert inadvertently finds out for herself. After she breaks up with her non-Jewish boyfriend, her family arranges for a makeover. Gone is the curly dark hair and glasses; in comes sleek, straight red hair and green contacts. When Aimee meets her non-Jewish friend Krista at a kosher wine tasting for Jewish singles, she meets handsome Josh Hirsch.
Josh is under the impression that Aimee is not Jewish, so Aimee encourages this misconception, pretending to be a Protestant from Scranton instead of a native Jewish New Yorker. The lie begins to consume her as she removes every Jewish element from her apartment and her life. She knows this is wrong, but she is approaching 40 and must have a Jewish husband. But is it worth abandoning her Jewish roots to attain him?
Graff's latest is by turns funny and poignant as she explores religious identity and modern relationships and finds that sometimes Mr. Wrong may be more right than Mr. Right.
'The Shiksa Syndrome' has Gentile touch
Laurie Graff takes a not-too-kosher look at New York's Jewish dating scene in her third novel, THE SHIKSA SYNDROME. Thirty-something Aimee Albert finds herself back on the Jewish singles circuit after a break-up with her gorgeous, goyish boyfriend Pete.
The entertaining blend of farcical scenarios and quick-fire prose finds an unexpected poignancy as Aimee is forced to confront her fundamental beliefs, tackling religion, loss, what's worth letting go of and, ultimately, what's worth holding on to.
Graff (YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS) introduces us to 39-year-old publicist Aimee Albert, whose goyish boyfriend, Peter, breaks up with her when she asks if he could give up Christmas and raise kids in the Jewish tradition. Not wanting to hold her back, Peter lovingly ends things, and a depressed and disillusioned Aimee takes on her brother's offer for a makeover, inadvertently transforming herself into a shiksa. Her long, wavy, brown hair is cut, straightened, and dyed red, and her brown eyes are covered with green-tinted contacts. This new image is exactly what Josh Hirsch is drawn to at a kosher wine tasting, and he anxiously thinks Aimee is not Jewish. Realizing his mistake, Aimee does not correct him and proceeds to embrace all the stereotypes that seemingly make someone not Jewish. In this quest to reinvent herself, she destroys everything that makes her who she really is. Readers will enjoy Aimee's chance to rediscover herself and to recognize what she truly values. Recommended for all fiction collections.
Laurie Graff's hilarious and sharp-witted novel is breezy enough to devour quickly, but resonant, too. When Josh Hirsch mistakes Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert for a non-Jew, she plays along until she realizes she's sacrificing her humor and honesty for a guy with questionable values. The zany scenarios propel the novel but belie a powerful moral core about identity and cultural perceptions.
THE SHIKSA SYNDROME is a funny and entertaining read. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down and actually finished it on the same day. Now I'm eager to get my hands on Laurie Graff's other novels, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG. If they're half as good as THE SHIKSA SYNDROME, I have some great reading ahead.
Laurie Graff's biting new novel slices up modern-day Jewish romance with the precision of a New York deli man. THE SHIKSA SYNDROME offers up a witty read with the satisfying crunch of crusty rye and the sting of hot mustard, no matter what you put between the slices.
Graff trains her unerring eye and ear on the Jewish singles scene, peopled with women looking for Mr. Right and men looking for Mr. Right's shiksa counterpart... but Graff puts (stereotypes) to good use in her thought-provoking book, part chick lit and part sociological study.
Bette-Lee Fox Recommendation: Laurie Graff’s THE SHIKSA SYNDROME takes a predictable premise and turns it upside down (or right to left, as it were): a Jewish woman has relationship issues (what else is new), so she pretends to be a non-Jew in order to snag the perfect Jewish mate. But what might appear perfect could actually be a bit chipped and tarnished upon closer inspection.
Ideal recipient: WOMEN, of every religion, race, philosophy, or hair color. If you’ve got a funny bone, Graff will latch on and refuse to let go. The kind of book to recommend to all your girlfriends, girlfriend.