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Every House Needs a Balcony
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Every House Needs a Balcony

1.6 3
by Rina Frank
 

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Hailed as the "Israeli Kite Runner" (The Bookseller), this international bestseller and publishing phenomenon is the bittersweet story of one family, one home, and the surprising arc of one woman's life, from the poverty of her youth to the glowing love and painful losses of her adult years.

Braiding together past

Overview

Hailed as the "Israeli Kite Runner" (The Bookseller), this international bestseller and publishing phenomenon is the bittersweet story of one family, one home, and the surprising arc of one woman's life, from the poverty of her youth to the glowing love and painful losses of her adult years.

Braiding together past and present, Every House Needs a Balcony tells the story of a young Jewish girl—a child of Romanian immigrants—who lives with her family in the poverty-stricken heart of 1950s Haifa, Israel. Eight-year-old Rina, her older sister, and their parents inhabit a cramped apartment with a narrow balcony that becomes an intimate shared stage on which the joys and dramas of the building's daily life are played out. It is also a vantage point from which Rina witnesses the emergence of a strange new country, born from the ashes of World War II. Later, after years of living abroad with her wealthy Spanish husband in Barcelona, Rina, longing for the simple life she has missed, returns to the Haifa of her boisterous youth, a move that soothes her soul but ultimately endangers her marriage.

Beautifully told, rich with questions of identity, love, and survival, Every House Needs a Balcony is an unforgettable social and historical portrait of a neighborhood and a nation. Steeped in the colors and smells, laughter and tears, of Rina Frank's own childhood memories, it is a heartbreaking tale about the deepest meanings of home.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her first English translation, Israeli author Frank offers a captivating roman à clef told, in part, by a stubborn eight-year-old girl named Rina, whose family emigrates from Romania to Haifa, Israel, following WWII. Living in poor conditions with two other families in a small three-room apartment, Rina and her older—and wiser, and more practical—sister take pleasure in repainting game tiles, bathing once a week, and picking out third-hand blouses from America. The sisters connect with their diverse city from their balcony, which gives them a view into even less fortunate lives. Interspersed with Rina’s childhood memories, a third-person narrative follows the adult Rina as she falls in love with a handsome Spaniard from a well-to-do family, marries him, moves to Barcelona, and returns to Israel to give birth. Though Rina’s spunky personality (and her sister’s sound advice) remain consistent throughout, Frank’s cunning use of the intermittent first person reveals Rina’s childhood in parts, meaning that readers come to understand the grown Rina’s actions only gradually. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
An Israeli with Romanian ancestry charts her own and her extended family's history in an unsettling split-screen narrative. Below the surface of a character-heavy tale of migration, resettlement and young marriage, Frank riffs on character, fortune, roots and above all home. Her narrator, Rina, is both a child amid a colorful group of impoverished immigrants in Haifa and the young woman who falls in love with a Spanish architect whose wealthy family she visits in Barcelona. Alternating between first- and third-person voices, the story is delivered in discrete installments a little like short stories. First-person Rina describes life in an overcrowded apartment block abandoned by Arabs where she grows up among quirky relatives in the shadow of her older, smarter sister. Rina's adult story, delineated in an unanalytical authorial voice, is a numb account of failed romance: the wooing, the wedding, the pregnancy and the birth of an acutely ill child whose care needs come to dominate the relationship. As the book closes, its two strands may have reached proximity, but the gulf between the early domestic episodes in Haifa, sometimes dark but usually animated and engaged, and the increasingly downbeat account of Rina's marriage is never bridged. Near-sighted and oddly uninviting.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061714238
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/08/2010
Pages:
327
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

The author of three novels, Rina Frank was born in Wadi Salib, the poorest neighborhood in Haifa. She worked as a technical architect, marketing director, and television producer with Israel's Channel 2 before founding her own production company, Matan TV Production. Every House Needs a Balcony is her first novel. She lives in Tel Aviv.

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