Photo Credit: Tfutza Publications

Title: Even There Even Now
By Libby Klein
Tfutza Publications

 

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In the gripping, page-turner novel, Even There Even Now, by Libby Klein, life starts out ordinarily for Leiby and Esti – newly married, living a kollel life where Leiby learns during the day while Esti works as a video editor from home. But as they approach their first anniversary, life throws them a curveball they never would have imagined. Leiby receives a grim, incurable medical diagnosis.

Shortly before the diagnosis takes place, Esti becomes friends with Goldie, a woman raising three children by herself while her husband battles severe mental illness. Goldie and Esti cross paths – two women who thought that they had their lives carefully mapped out until the unexpected happened. Now they must grapple with how to move forward in their life journeys.

The author does not include an author’s note either before or after the book. As a realistic fiction book with heavy topics, I would have liked to know what kind of research the author conducted in writing this book, i.e., interviewing medical professionals, people who have been married to spouses with physical or mental illness and so forth. Readers are left to speculate.

This book can be great for a book group discussion. Here are some discussion questions which might be useful:

  1. Esti and Leiby don’t disclose their difficult situations to the people around them, including immediate family. What do you think are the pros and cons of their choosing not to disclose their situations? Do you think that they made the right choice?
  2. What do you think about Goldie’s and Rabbi Ben Chamu’s decision not to inform the authorities that they were physically attacked by Shauli, Goldie’s husband? What ramifications does this choice have?
  3. Do you relate to any of the main characters – Goldie, Esti, and Leiby? How do you relate to them?
  4. The growing friendship between Esti and Goldie plays out throughout the novel. What is it about Esti’s demeanor and personality that makes Goldie want to seek out a friendship with Esti?
  5. In regards to Shauli’s violent behavior, how should one balance one’s need to protect others from a dangerous person with the mitzvah of helping a fellow Jew?
  6. Toxic positivity is the belief that we should always be positive, no matter what difficulties, tragedy or hardship we experience. Do you see elements of toxic positivity in this novel?
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Avigayil Perry lives in Norfolk, Virginia and writes for various Jewish publications.