Saturday, May 10, 2008
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman
I recommend this book for: ?
Freddie is a struggling American ventriloquist working his way through Europe post-WWII. His act isn't fantastic until a dybbuk (a possessing spirit from Jewish folklore) shows up in his closet and makes him an offer he can't refuse - fame and fortune in return for the use of his body. Suddenly Freddie is one of the most sought-after entertainers in the trade, because not only is the dybbuk funny, but he can speak while Freddie drinks a glass of water and performs other 'impossible' stunts. Audiences everywhere are amazed. But the dybbuk doesn't just want to make people laugh - he wants to tell them some ugly truths about the Holocaust, and he wants help in tracking down the SS officer who killed him just before his 13th birthday.
I wasn't exactly sure what to make of this book. It certainly showed a familiar topic in a different light, and the relationship between the two main characters was interesting. However, I'm not sure where it should fit as far as age group is concerned. Freddie is in his early 20s, the dybbuk was nearly 13 when he was killed, and that would normally indicate YA to me, as would some of the grisly descriptions. However, much of the language and explanation seems targeted to a younger crowd, and the resolution is somewhat tidy and reassuring. An interesting read, but not a favorite.