The best Jewish-themed novels with imaginative female characters

Jennifer Rosner Author Of The Yellow Bird Sings
By Jennifer Rosner

The Books I Picked & Why

The Weight of Ink

By Rachel Kadish

Book cover of The Weight of Ink

Why this book?

The Weight of Ink is a sweeping, expansive story about two brilliant females: a young woman in the 1660s, who becomes the scribe to a blind rabbi and, through feats of great daring, a correspondent with the philosophers of the day;  and an aging historian in the 1990s, who fights to gain access to and analyse these correspondences. Kadish highlights how intellectual women of different centuries have coped with restrictions set upon them. 

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No One Is Here Except All of Us

By Ramona Ausubel

Book cover of No One Is Here Except All of Us

Why this book?

I read this magical, mystical novel on an airplane, and had to retrieve a spare t-shirt from my suitcase to sob into! A beautiful, heart-wrenching work about family history, memory, and the power of imagination, the story is narrated by a girl, Lena, who leads her village to imagining their way out of the reality of the Holocaust's horrors. For a time, the villagers are spared, even repaired, until the outside world presses its way in and the myths crack, then shatter.  

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The History of Love

By Nicole Krauss

Book cover of The History of Love

Why this book?

Every time I open The History of Love—and I return to it again and again—I find myself suspended between tears and laughter reading this gorgeous, emotionally-charged story. It is full of heartbreak and humor about an old man, Leo Gursky and a teenage girl, Alma—and the history, longing, and loneliness that brings them together, and connects all of us. 

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The World That We Knew

By Alice Hoffman

Book cover of The World That We Knew

Why this book?

The World That We Knew blends realism and magic as a golem—a mystical human-like being, required to follow the demands of its maker— is invoked to protect a 12-year-old girl, Lea, escaping the horrors of the Holocaust. As the golem gains more humanity, the dangers and poignancies mount. A lyrical, heartrending novel about sacrifice, connection, love, and loss. 

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The Last Train To London

By Meg Waite Clayton

Book cover of The Last Train To London

Why this book?

This suspenseful, big-hearted novel is based on the true story of Truus Wijsmuller, a childless Dutch woman who smuggled hundreds of Jewish children to London on the Kindertransport. The story is inspiring and beautiful, and shows the extraordinary power of one person to change the fates of many. 

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