Goyhood, by Reuven Fenton

If you’ve ever suddenly lost so much in your life that you don’t know who you are anymore, you will absolutely relate to Goyhood, by Reuven Fenton.  I wasn’t expecting to find myself in a novel about two possibly Jewish, definitely middle-aged men on a road trip to find their lost boyhood, but I was pleasantly surprised to do so.  I also wasn’t expecting to connect with such a whiny, spoiled, naïve protagonist, and to be honest, I’m still not sure I did.  Throughout the novel I kept yelling at Marty to do something heroic, and then he would!  Staring down the barrel of the shotgun of a white supremacist, Marty seemed to rise to epic levels, only to fall once again as he pouted in the car over his lost yarmulke or abused the abandoned dog they’d acquired along the way.  David, however, with his playboy, happy-go-lucky ease, saved his twin brother, not only from irreversible reader ire, but also from a life Marty was never meant to live.

All of which brings me to when I turned 30, and it seemed the universe decided to rip the carpet from beneath my feet.  My marriage shattered, along with my home, my job, and the one friend I’m managed to gather in all my years on this earth.  Then, just as I began to pull it all back together, my father died, taking my religion and my faith to the grave with him.  The question Goyhood asks is, when you lose the things that made you YOU, what do you do next?  For Marty it was a road trip through the southern U.S. and a journey that merged the man with the boy he was.  For me it was taking the long way around to learning that home is the peace I make for myself.  And the person I choose to be is dependent only on the choices I make today.

Read Goyhood to learn more than you ever knew you wanted to know about the Jewish faith.  Don’t let the vocabulary faze you; Fenton does a phenomenal job of sprinkling just enough Hebrew in the mix so as not to overwhelm the senses.  Read Goyhood also to enjoy the sparky love/hate relationship that so often happens between siblings.  And read the book to meet Popeye, the junkyard dog who knows a bad guy when he smells one.

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