Book Review: The Kiss by Scott Blumenthal

5 STARS for The Kiss by Scott Blumenthal! I cannot remember the last book I finished through mammoth tears. Legitimate, from my core,  mammoth tears. I wish I could put my finger on exactly what it was that made them well up and pour out. The truth is, it was so many things. It was all the things.

I'm not sure how many books I've read in my life. I can tell you that I have never read anything like The Kiss. And, I'm quite sure I will never read anything like it again. My favorite reader friends and I have conversations about the weight of books. We talk about how sometimes you have to space out the, "heavy," ones. This one was very heavy for me. But, depending on your ability to shift the perspective, it's also brimming with light. And, it's a cleansing heavy. It's a heavy that comes from feeling connected, from feeling empathetic, from understanding.

This book will grab you because you can smell, hear, touch, see, and taste every experience in it. The story is living and breathing. The bread is freshly baked. The characters are well-defined and become your friends and adversaries. The book is rich with Jewish culture, using words and events to underline the depth of suffering and pain. Scott uses his gift to shine a light on the common threads of humanity like hope, joy, suffering, pain, sacrifice, fear, and love. One of my favorite threads though, was the burning drive for purpose. I was moved and stirred from the first page to the last because of the focus on fulfilling life's purpose. Because "Aron, whose music, though we never got a chance to hear it, resonates within all of us, each hearing it in his or her own way."

Many parts of the book were extremely raw, breathing life into atrocities that arguably could happen again today. The use of perspective was beautiful. Many of the characters change their perspective in times of trouble, fear, or brutality. They turn their gaze to the cobblestones on the street, to the birds, to art to separate themselves from the reality playing out before them. And then, there's the Music. Without the music, and the journey and path of 3 young men, there really wouldn't be any light in the entire book. And, one could argue the years of the Holocaust, when looking at the timeline of humanity were indeed, the darkest. People were desperate to find light, hope, home, an escape in any way, for any brief moment that they could. This book does a wonderful job of capturing how significant the seemingly insignificant things in life can be.

This review, these meager, simple, and flat words fall so very short in being able to communicate the power, impact, and value this book will have when you finish it. It's full of so much goodness, so many discussion topics, and memorable parts, that you will want to seek out others who have read it, and give it to those who have not.

I cannot help but think, after finishing 300 pages, how in the world we were able to take such a meaningful and lasting journey together.

"Stories I think have a way of taking on lives of their own, then sprouting limbs and mouths-" It is my hope, that you spend some time reading this one. I think you'll agree that the author found his calling. And, I think you will be forever changed. I dare you not to highlight anything in the book.

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