Book Review | Blue Thread by Ruth Tenzer Feldman

Book Review | Blue Thread by Ruth Tenzer Feldman

Ooligan Press, 2012, 305 pp.

In this debut novel, fifteen-year-old Miriam Josefsohn grapples with suffrage, her brother’s death, a traditional father, and a family heirloom with special powers in 1912 Portland, Oregon.

The good things

  • Well researched — A seasoned nonfiction writer, Feldman knows her way around archives. Her meticulous research serves her well.
  • Family heirloom — The prayer shawl with its magical blue thread is an endowed object if ever there was one
  • Fantastical elements — I was intrigued by Serakh and all she represented.  I liked the time travel and found more energy in those sequences than in the “current” story.
  • Reconnection to Judaism — As assimilated Jews, members of the Julius Josefsohn family do not observe many traditions or practices. Serakh and the prayer shawl’s blue thread provide the reconnection for Miriam.
  • Typography focus – Feldman did an outstanding job here of incorporating typography as a frame of reference for Miriam’s thoughts and of including the technical aspects without detracting from the overall story.
  • Ambition — Miriam has ambition despite her circumstances. In the same vein, Feldman’s first novel is also ambitious.
  • Author’s Note — In this note, Feldman describes the catalysts for her novel.

The not-so-good things

  • Back in time — I have nothing against time travel, but I often got lost in the logistics once Miriam and Serakh went back to biblical time.
  • The ending — I wanted Miriam to somehow work things out with her father and that would have given both the opportunity for character growth/transformation
  • Kitchen sink syndrome — There was a lot here. Death in the family. Relationship issues with parents. Conflict on broader scale with women’s right to vote. Endowed object with time travel. Conflict in biblical times exacerbated by the heroine. Perhaps too much going on at the expense of deeper characterization.

Overall rating

3.7 out of 5.0

About Barbara Krasner

History writer and award-winning author Barbara Krasner writes Jewish-themed poetry, articles, nonfiction books, and novels for children and adults.
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9 Responses to Book Review | Blue Thread by Ruth Tenzer Feldman

  1. Curious about the publisher: new, distributor for self-published books, books of Jewish interest, location ?
    Curious about the author: other books, agent?

    Pnina

  2. Magda says:

    This sounds like a very interesting book, I really liked the review, very informative. I usually get my reviews from The Book Report (I love the show), but I very much enjoyed reading this review.

  3. Thanks for the review! Ruth Tenzer Feldman will be contributing a post to our Kidlit celebrates Women’s History Month blog, which will start its second annual round of posts on March 1 at kidlitwhm.blogspot.com.

    • Indeed! Blue Thread is rich in history about woman suffrage. I’m delighted to be part of the Kidlit celebration (my post is on March 24), and even more delighted that there is such a round of posts. Thank you, Fourth Musketeer and Shelf-Employed.

  4. Pingback: Author’s Notebook | Ruth Tenzer Feldman and Blue Thread | The Whole Megillah

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