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Sharing Sad Feelings

I can’t even bring myself to write a chatty and cheery blogpost. The past few days have been very sad ones for all of the world and especially America. The Connecticut tragedy is something that is unfathomable, and beyond belief. To use an old and tired cliche, I cannot wrap my head around it. Continue reading

Pass or Fail

I decided to add a new category to my Bubby Blog. Book Reviews. For the first review, I have chosen the novel, “Pass or Fail.” This story resonated with me, when I read it in a magazine last year, week after week over a period of about six months. The concept of “life as a test,” in which every situation we encounter is some sort of checkup of whether we will do the “right” or “wrong” thing (or somewhere in between) resonates with me.

“Pass or Fail” is the title of a newly released book by Israel Bookshop Publications. I am a fan of the author, S. Wiederblank, who has a knack for writing fiction with compelling characters, important themes, and well-paced plots.

The story takes place mostly in a fictional school in a fictional town of White Falls. The protagonist, Bracha Halperin, is an accountant-turned-teacher who takes a job at a girls’ school, and finds constant challenges there with her students, colleagues, and administration. Bracha, a mature young lady who is also dating for marriage, seems to have load after load on her plate, and faces constant crises in her work place and home life. Most of the time, she passes with flying colors. Other times, she doesn’t, but grows from each experience nevertheless. Readers follow the inner conflicts that Bracha faces, as she learns to deal with a varied student body, difficult personalities, and school politics.

The theme of “pass or fail” rang true for me, as I found each day of Bracha’s life another “test” that she aimed to do the right thing, whatever that seemed to be. Her character was one with a strong ethic, (past accountant – definitely in character!), if not perfection-striving. It seemed to me, the reader, that Bracha was harder on herself than those around her, albeit with the challenges they posed for her.

This is something I found to be realistic, as I observe that young woman of that age tend to be high achievers, and overly self critical. Readers of all ages -from school age to adult – will enjoy this page turner, because it has strong characters in various age groups – middle aged, and young adult teachers, as well as high school students.

For example, Bracha, the high achieving, hard working, conscientious teacher and employee acted as a foil for another older, more “burned out” possibly tenured teacher who seemed to coast along, breaking every rule, and frustrating the staff. Another challenge occurs when Bracha is set up with a young man who is the son of another teacher, adding to Bracha’s conflicted feelings of wanting to stay on good terms with the teacher. Additionally, Bracha’s methods often counteract the philosophy of the school, and Bracha finds herself wondering whether to remain true to herself or follow the pack. Compound all that with spats with students, counseling needy students and planning her lessons, and the reader is bound to realize how the “sub-culture” of a school environment is often a world unto itself, where there are winners and losers. But everyone feels lost in the maze of wanting desperately to stay above water, if not pass the test.

First Day of School for Grandma

There used to be those jokes: You know you’re a redneck when….
My feeling today was: I know I’m getting older when….

I had no clue about the start of the school year. Yup. This week was the start of the schools in our neighborhood, and I didn’t even know anything about it until today. For the first time in almost 30 years, I didn’t think about school supplies, admission cards, backpacks, or teachers. For the first time in a long time, I found out in casual conversation that – oh yeah, today was the first day of school.

My daughter-in-law mentioned to me that her son is starting school today. Then, I perked my ears and eyes up and did notice kids walking home from school in uniforms at the end of the day. I guess I needed to pay attention!

So how am I celebrating this newness of the school year this year? I do have to commemorate it – if only for old times sake. I know. I will buy my grandsons who are starting yeshiva a special picture book that was just released this week!

The book, “Moshe Goes To Yeshiva” is about a little boy who starts school (you figured that out, didn’t you?), and his mom is all anxious about how he will fare. The boy is fine and prepared, and all pumped up. But then when the mother pulls away from her child, he clamps up and becomes afraid.

A great book to  read to kids before school starts (or once school starts too…), and prepare the child for the beginning of school. All beginnings are hard, and this book can ease the transition.

Well, that’s my Grandmother perspective and take on  beginnings, newness, and first day of school.

So, I know I’m getting older when the main focus of the first day of school is going out to buy a book for my grandson!

Happy reading for me and for other grandmothers! Much luck in the coming school year for all the children!!

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