A Review Of Elizabeth Poliner's As Close To Us As Breathing

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The Elizabeth Poliner’s in-class visit and evening reading at the Marvin Center were very nice in my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed hearing Poliner discuss her novel, As Close to Us As Breathing in terms of the characters and the location. I was pleasantly surprise to learn that Bagel Beach was a real beach in Woodmont, Connecticut where American Jews spent their summers with their family and friends. As an adult, Poliner became curious about the beach and began imaging a story set at Bagel Beach after speaking with relatives and neighbors who grew up and lived there. Later, Poliner discussed how the novel is about authenticity and honoring your identity. In the novel, she asks what happens when we don’t be our authentic self. Throughout the novel, the characters have struggles with their Jewish identity when it comes to their life outside of religion. From Bec’s relationship with a married Catholic man to Howard’s relationship with an Irish girl, they all question whether to put their happiness above family, above faith. However, when Davy dies, many of the characters feel they no longer deserve happiness. Poliner noted that many of the characters if not all suffer from loneliness in the novel. She also stated that not all of the…show more content…
The reason I believe having all of these plot lines do not make the novel feel “soapy” is the novel is not written like a soap opera where all of the family members’ secret lives are revealed to everyone in a dramatic matter, and then are reprimanded and shunned for their actions. While some of the characters knows of other characters’ deepest secrets, the only character in the novel who knows everybody’s stories is Molly, the narrator, and she does not judge her relatives for their

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