Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A true (as told to me) story
by Kalb Bess
Hardcover- $23.36

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  "There were so many parallels to my own life...a delightful read." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 04/13/20

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, Bess Kalb, author and narrator
This is a very fast read. It will take the reader through a range of emotions from laughter to tears. It is a lovely book that pays homage to a grandmother’s relationship with her grandchild. It is Barbara and Bessie’s story. There is an extended family that is not part of the story, but they do exist.
This brief little book reveals the grandmother’s life with all its history, and in so doing, reveals the lives of so many others from Eastern Europe and Russia. It is full of the joy (a great deal shared by Barbara and Bessie) and the pain (but only what was necessary to bring Barbara to life) that each experienced. It is done with such a light touch and such a sweet honesty that the sad moments are swallowed up quickly by the humorous interactions that follow. I truly enjoyed the book.
As the granddaughter puts words into the mouth of her grandmother, gleaned from her experiences with her and the tales that she told her, the reader will feel their ups and downs, their raw emotions, at times, and the sheer joy and honesty of their special relationship. The two of them shared a deep bond that joined their hearts together. They truly loved each other, and Barbara expresses her hope to remain in Bessie’s memory, so as to remain in her life for long after she no longer occupies this mortal coil and shuffles off where all must go. She hopes what Bessie has been taught by this special relationship will be passed on to Bessie’s children so their legacy continues. Barbara doesn’t want to fade away from Bessie’s memories, but she openly embraces the life she lived and the need for its end. The conversations between Bessie and her grandmother are heartwarming and charming. As you read this book, keep your mind open to the emotions it arouses. They are genuine. There is a lesson to be learned from its telling.
Bessie puts words in Barbara’s mouth, as Barbara relates her story with little nuggets of information about her life. It is gleaned from Bessie’s memories of her grandmother, from voicemails they shared and from her conversations with others to confirm her thoughts. It is therefore documented and as accurate as possible. It is delightful. It will take the reader through a range of emotions, some uplifting and some that will bring tears to the eyes, but each revelation about Barbara exposes not only their beautiful relationship, but also the truth of the Jewish immigrant’s experience, beginning more than 100 years ago, as they ran from the anti-Semitism and oppression in Europe and Russia to the United States where they flourished and had a better life. Barbara’s life truly fulfilled the American dream.
While many Jewish immigrants made the journey from places like Pinsk, which was in Russia at that time, to places like Brooklyn and the lower East side, and then to places like Palm Beach, in Florida, which is the quintessential American dream, not everyone did as well, but everyone had the chance to do better. As the book takes the reader from Russia, to the United States, I identified with it because the names of the places and the experiences of my life clearly paralleled theirs. It was the path my father took with his family. He came from the same city in Belarus. My mother was the same kind of person as the grandmother, loving but also interjecting advice, sometimes heavy-handed, sometimes subtle, but always well-intentioned, although not so open-minded about some subjects. Then again, because of my age and experiences, I could hear my own voice speaking to my daughter as well.
Perhaps this book is not for everyone. Perhaps you have to be Jewish, but then, maybe not. Perhaps you just have to have had a grandmother and a mother who did their best to encourage you to be the best you could be.
Bessie and Barbara were two “B’s” in a pod.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/23/21

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/24/21

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