David and Jonathan

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This could be the problem novel to end all problem novels: suicide, anti-Semitism, homoerotic fantasies, family rifts, botched abortions, alcoholism, life-and-death operations--all figure on- or offstage in the Newbery winner's newest. At its center, the Holocaust; as its frames, the grown protagonists' experiences in Vietnam. When the central narrative opens, the Korean War is raging while another battle is about to erupt in Cape Cod, home to best friends Henry Marr and Jonathan Nafiche. Both young men are gratingly precocious; the latter, with his extemporaneously invented parables, nearly parodies the young geniuses of Chaim Potok. Their formidable intellects provide thin armor when the Nafiches take in David Steintodt, a 20-year-old presumed to be the sole relative to have survived the Holocaust. (And although the direct discussion of the Holocaust is brief, it is inaccurate, with David telling Henry and Jonathan that the Nazis made prostitutes of all young and pretty Jewish women in the camps.) David, driven by a powerful death wish, permanently damages almost everyone in his wake. Sadly, the weight of her characters' many crises and unarticulated encounters with the profound overwhelms even Voigt's prodigious talents. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9-12-- A complex novel, set in the 1950s, that explores what it was like to be Jewish in the years following World War II--the sorrow of losing one's family, the guilt of having survived when so many did not, and the religious doubt such tragedy evokes. Sixteen-year-old Henry, a New England WASP, finds that his close friendship with Jonathan is threatened when Jonathan's older cousin David, an emotionally disturbed Holocaust survivor, moves in with the Nafiche family. Having lived through the war, David is now intent on suicide. He seems to despise both boys, yet constantly demands their attention. The troubled young man's presence takes a terrible toll on all the Nafiches and changes Henry's life. Voigt's writing is intelligent and witty, but her voice is inconsistent. Both Henry and Jonathan are extremely well-read and constantly volley literary quotations and allusions back and forth. Their perspective is unconvincingly mature as they grapple with the heavy subject matter. Although they are said to be very different, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish who is speaking. The main narration is framed by short scenes of the friends in Vietnam in 1967, a device that underscores the coming-of-age and impact-of-war themes. There is a great deal more talk than action, and the questions raised are difficult ones. Dense and intense, this book will require patience from its readers, but will also give them much to consider. --Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, County of Henrico Public Library, Richmond, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590451659
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/1992
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.79 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.94 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2000

    A Page Turner All The Way

    David and Jonathan is a very compelling book. Jonathan and his best friend, Henry, test there friendship when David, Jonathan's cousin, comes to live with Jonathan and his family. David is a survivor from the holocaust. Since he was 3 yrs. old, he has been in the psychiatric ward. At the age of 20, he is released, even though he is suicidal. This is a great book to understand life after the Holocaust. You always hear about families during Holocaust but you never hear that much about them afterwards.

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