What to Do About the Solomons

Bethany Ball
  • Review
By – April 28, 2017

Talk about sala­cious! In her debut nov­el, What to Do About the Solomons, Bethany Ball leaves no stone unturned as she grad­u­al­ly divulges the inner psy­ches, dark­est secrets, and most prob­lem­at­ic idio­syn­crasies of her kib­butznik char­ac­ters. Lust, drugs, mon­ey, and oth­er excess­es are no strangers to the Solomon fam­i­ly. Lovers of clas­sic Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture and gos­sip rags unite: this one’s got some­thing for everyone.

Each mem­ber of the Solomon fam­i­ly is beau­ti­ful­ly, painstak­ing­ly, and unique­ly flawed. Patri­arch Yakov is the kib­butz heavy­weight, who snagged the most stun­ning woman, a Sephar­di, on the com­mune and has no prob­lem play­ing favorites with his chil­dren. Vivi­enne, his wife, is the only per­son who’s not com­plete­ly enam­ored of her effer­ves­cent hus­band. Daugh­ter Shi­ra is an aging star­let and seduc­tress, trav­el­ling, shop­ping, and smok­ing away her small for­tune while her ado­les­cent son, Joseph, pines for his moth­er. Prodi­gal son Marc has left behind the glo­ry of being an ex-Navy com­man­do for a life in LA with his enig­mat­ic Amer­i­can wife, Car­olyn, and their chil­dren. But things begin to look less and less glam­orous for Marc when he’s accused of mon­ey laun­der­ing through his asset man­age­ment firm and his rich­es are lost. The oth­er adult chil­dren, Ziv, Dror, and Keren have trou­bles of their own. And then there’s the family’s neigh­bors and friends from the kib­butz, like Marc’s child­hood sweet­heart, Maya, engulfed in her own strug­gles as she yearns des­per­ate­ly for the love that got away.

Through her telling of the Solomon fam­i­ly sagas, Ball explores the dichotomies of Israeli soci­ety and, more broad­ly, life in gen­er­al. She grap­ples with reli­gion and sec­u­lar­ism, war and peace, lib­er­al­ism and con­ser­vatism, social­ism and com­mu­nism, wealth and pover­ty, and Europe, Amer­i­ca, and Israel. Read­ers will find them­selves eas­i­ly and eager­ly turn­ing the pages of What to do About the Solomons, thanks in part to a burn­ing desire to know what will be revealed about the var­i­ous mem­bers of the Solomon fam­i­ly as the book pro­gress­es. That said, what’s tru­ly strik­ing about the nov­el is the sub­stance the author con­veys in her flu­id and airy prose. Audi­ences will find them­selves trans­fixed by cer­tain sen­tences, read­ing them over and over, shocked to see their own inter­nal expe­ri­ence reflect­ed on the page before them. 

Relat­ed Reads:

Hei­di Sax is a mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­al, spe­cial­iz­ing in the fash­ion indus­try. Orig­i­nal­ly from the Chica­go area, Hei­di has a Bach­e­lor’s Degree in Eng­lish from Emory Uni­ver­si­ty and resides in New York City.

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