New Fiction: All I Love and Know – Judith Frank

This insightful family novel deserves a wide readership and will instantly appeal to fans of Michael Cunningham and Stephen McCauley. And the deft handling of the social issues and emotional territory will resonate with fans of writers like Wally Lamb and Sue Miller.

The central characters, Matthew and Daniel are a settled couple in Northampton, MA when Daniel’s brother and his wife are killed in a terrorist attack in Israel. The men discover that the deceased parents wish was for Matthew and Daniel to raise their children. While that’s complication enough to fuel a plot, cultural politics further complicate the story—the homophobia of the Israeli courts, Daniel’s expression of sympathy for the Palestinians and his fragile relationship with his own family.

I was happy to see several starred advance reviews. Hopefully this lovely novel has many more coming.

“This beautiful novel is old-fashioned in its approach, taking its sweet time to tell a tender love story between two flawed, good-hearted people, and yet it feels wholly fresh . . . Frank not only explores the complexities of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict but also presents the difficulties gay partners face in navigating the court system. Above all, though, this is a compassionate, utterly compelling story of how family members, torn apart by tragedy, must reach deep within themselves to meet their greatest challenge.”
Booklist (starred review)

Compelling . . . It seems quite possible the men’s relationship will not survive these stresses, which Frank explores in depth and without reassuring sentimentality . . . [Frank] also excels at the social backdrops for her characters’ drama, from the fraught political climate in Israel . . . to the cozy, gossipy world of gay and lesbian life in Northampton. . . . [It’s] moving to watch them work through to reconciliation. [This is] strong storytelling driven by emotionally complex characters: first-rate commercial fiction.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“In Frank’s deeply moving second novel, Matt Greene and Daniel Rosen, a couple in Northampton, Mass., cope with the deaths of Daniel’s twin brother and his wife—Israeli citizens who are killed in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem. Their will gives Daniel custody of the couple’s children, Gal and Noam, and Matt, who is used to getting by on good looks and charm, isn’t sure he can handle instant fatherhood. But while Daniel and the rest of the family are paralyzed by grief, Matt jumps in feet first to take charge….As Daniel becomes more immersed in the custody battle, Matt feels increasingly ignored, until he explodes, creating a rift between the men. Frank shows a profound empathy for her characters, making this book heartbreaking, yet jubilantly hopeful.”
Publishers Weekly

“This powerful, compelling novel of family and relationships is a wonderful read, modern in theme, classic in style….Reminiscent of Michael Cunningham at his best!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, MI

All I Love and Know (9780062302878) by Judith Frank. $26.99 hardcover. 7/15/14 on sale.

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