Friday, October 12, 2018

Blog Tour: Review of Yeled Tov by Daniel M. Jaffe

Author:Daniel M. Jaffe
Publisher: Lethe Press
Date of publication: April 2018

As he’s about to turn 16 in the mid-1970’s, Jake Stein notices a prohibition in Leviticus that never caught his eye before:  “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.”  This discovery distresses Jake, an observant Jewish teen, because he’s recently been feeling increased attraction to other teen boys and men.  He’s even been engaging in sexual exploration with his best friend.  In an attempt to distract himself, Jake joins his high school’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank, but falls in love with the romantic male lead, obsessively fantasizing about him.  Jake feels lonelier than ever.

The next year, while a freshman at Princeton University, Jake falls for his handsome roommate, is beset by serious temptations, and engages in a traumatic sexual encounter with a stranger.  Seeking help from God, Jake tries to alter his desires, even dates a young Jewish woman in the hopes that she can change him, but to no avail.   Jake concludes that God could never love an abomination like him, so he attempts to prove his faith by ending his own life.

After he’s saved by his roommate, Jake receives unexpected support from doctors, family, and friends, some of whom have been suspecting his secret.  With their help, Jake explores a different way of thinking about the rules of Torah and himself, and begins to consider that he might actually be a yeled tov, a good Jewish boy, just the way he is.

I will warn you ahead of time, Yeled Tov is not a light read.  It is the very emotional coming of age story involving Jake. Set in 1974, Jake is beginning to realize that he is gay.  He also comes from a very religious background.  We follow Jake in his last year of high school and first year of college as he struggles to reconcile his true self with his religious beliefs and the teachings he has grown up with.

As I said this is not a light read.  It was gut wrenching at times.  I was sucked into the story and wanted to see what happened to Jake.  I also kept feeling like I wanted to give him a big hug and tell him it would all be OK. Had he grown up in present time, I would hope he would have an easier time coming out. The only thing that I didn't care for was the ending.  I felt like I hadn't spent enough time with Jake to see if he was going to be OK.  It would have been nice to have an epilogue or more past the closing scene as he explores his new reality a bit more.  

Purchase Link

About Daniel M. Jaffe

Daniel M. Jaffe is an award-winning, internationally published fiction and essay writer.  His novel-in-stories, THE GENEALOGY OF UNDERSTANDING, was a finalist and honorable mention for the Rainbow Awards; and his novel, THE LIMITS OF PLEASURE, was a finalist for a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award.  He is author of JEWISH GENTLE AND OTHER STORIES OF GAY JEWISH LIVING, and compiler/editor of WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF JEWISH FABULIST FICTION.  Also, Daniel translated the Russian-Israeli novel, HERE COMES THE MESSIAH! by Dina Rubina. 


Tour Stops
Monday, September 17th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, September 19th: Stranded in Chaos
Thursday, September 20th: Wining Wife
Friday, September 21st: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, September 24th: Jessicamap Reviews
Monday, October 1st: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, October 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, October 3rd: Broken Teepee
Monday, October 8th: Instagram: @quietmountainreader
Tuesday, October 9th: Lit.Wit.Wine.Dine.
Thursday, October 11th: The Desert Bibliophile
Friday, October 12th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, October 16th: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary
Wednesday, October 17th: Instagram: @carlycravesbooks
Thursday, October 18th: G. Jacks Writes
Friday, October 19th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog