To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyzes reviews to verify trustworthiness.
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
5.0 out of 5 starsScience, Russian history, love triangle, World War I...what's not to love?
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2019
It’s hard to believe this is Barenbaum’s debt. This beautifully written literary novel is many things—a historical thriller about physics, the plight of Russian Jews, a complicated love triangle, a heart-pumping journey across Russia, and a sweeping family saga. No matter what type of book you like to read, you’ll find it all here. I loved it. Most World War I books focus on England, France or Germany; this book offers a refreshing new take. Although the story takes place on the eve of World Ward I it’s ultimately not a book about war. It’s really about two headstrong siblings driven by their individual passions, and the power of ideas to change the world. Will single-minded scientist Vanya Abramov make it to the eclipse in time to prove or disprove Einstein’s as yet unpublished theory of relativity? Will his sister Miri, a headstrong female doctor, leave her steadfast fiancée for a dashing deserter of the czar’s army? Will the Abramov family line die out in Russia or will they rebuild a new one in America? Stay tuned. As Miri and Vanya’s grandmother Baba, says: “Life and the universe are not written in stone. Gravity bends direction. Always keep your mind open.”
5.0 out of 5 starsCouldn't put it down. A page turner
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2019
My husband who reads 4 books at a time, just read this one, once he started it. He said every page was exciting. I heard her in an interview and had to buy it. I read it in 2 days, as you can't stop reading it as the chapters keep going from one character to another, back and forth and you have to know what is next. M husband bought one for his daughter. One learns about the history in Russia for the Jews in 1914. My mother was born in Poland that year and she did not talk about her life there as it was not pleasant. There were 7 children, one who died because of the lack of medical care. Her father was a scholar, teacher, Shachet and Rabbi. They lived in a 1 room shack with a divide for sleeping. The cow and chickens slept in the shack at night so they shouldn't be stolen by the Poles.. They had a false wall in which space they had to hide when there was a program in the village. I have picture of the family in front of the shack that was taken by my grandfather to take with him to America. He had to work for a few years before he was able to bring the family over. They lived in Israe for a year before they came here. My mother was 13 at the time. From being as poor as a church mouse to the impossible, the American dream. Her father taught, and was a shachet here and he along with one of my Uncles started a Yeshiva for boys in Boro Park. Her brothers ended up becoming very influential in Judasim. One went to Harvard and got his PHd there and became a founder of the Conservative movement and wrote many books,. Another became a Rabbi and got a doctorate degree, wrote books and taught Jewish History in Y.U. Another became a very beloved M.D., Their sons became doctors and one is one of the top authorities on Cancer. A far cry from what would have happened to them had they remained in Poland. THe Jews they left behind were marched into the the forest and shot by the Germans with the help of the Poles. A few ended up in concentration camps and almost all died. One young woman went back to the village after the war to claim her things and was murdered by the villagers.SO the horrors in the book illuminate more for me. I loved the characters in the book and only wished she had added another chapter in between the last 2 chapters. I don't want to be a spoiler. Perhaps Rachel will write another book to fill in the blanks.. I want all my grandchildren to read it as they are all blessed here and don't really know about what life was for Jews even though they know about the Holocaust.
3.0 out of 5 starsGood Story Marred By Inconsistent Characters
Reviewed in the United States on May 22, 2019
Rachel Barenbaum has written a wonderful story, rooted in the Jewish experience at the end of the 19th century. Would that someone had recorded my communist grandfather’s flight from the tsarist police with his two cousins to the restaurants of New York.
However, the story was utterly ruined by Barenbaum’s immature writing in the treatment of her two main characters, Miri and Vanya, whose “humanity” is revealed by their identical, self-destructive behavior in moments of stress. While this might be revelatory of their characters, in fact it is, in both cases, directly contrary to the inherent strength of the two. Both are shown to have drive, strength and backbone, which then dissolves into bleating hysteria requiring rescue by one of the other characters - each of whom is asked to act against character or motivation to save Miri or Vanya.
Are there no editors to help first-time novelists?
4.0 out of 5 starsA rich but bleak tableau of life in the final years of Tsarist Russia
Reviewed in the United States on July 11, 2019
This book was the story of my ancestors: my familial ancestors, who fled from pogroms in Russia, and my intellectual ancestors, the brilliant physicists who created our modern understanding of Universe. There were thus parts of this story which moved me deeply. But more for how they made me think of other possible stories, rather than because of the story I was actually reading.
At times “A Bend In The Stars” is like the movie version of a brilliant novel. You can imagine how breathtakingly powerful a particular scene must have been in the original, but this version skips over the details and shaves some time off to speed up the plot. Coincidental meet-ups, chase scenes and lucky escapes abound, and the characters are a little one-dimensional. Nevertheless, the novel paints a rich but bleak tableau of life in the final years of Tsarist Russia, captures the growing fear of everyday Europeans in the early months of World War I, and relives the exciting beginnings of 20th century physics when we began to realise that everything we knew was wrong.
4.0 out of 5 starsA Bend in the Stars delivers on many levels
Reviewed in Canada on February 3, 2020
In 1914 in Russia men are being conscripted to fight in the war against Germany. Many of these men are Jews as they are considered dispensable. The Czar is loathed by most Russians and his private army is relentless in the roundup of Jews and feared by all citizens. Little did anyone know that in only four years, the Czar and his family would be murdered and a new government would be in place.
The Abromovics a Jewish family decide it is time to escape to America before they are killed or captured by either side. There is the daughter, Miri, who is on the verge of becoming the first female surgeon in Russia and son Vanya, who is hoping to solve the final puzzle of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, along with their matchmaker Babushka, who has raised them, plan to run to America. And Yuri a surgeon who is Miri's fiancé wants to leave with them. But first Vanya must observe the 1914 solar eclipse, which when photographed will prove his equation and earn him a position in Harvard university beating Einstein at his own game. The book is action packed as they make it across Russia and then back again to attempt the escape out of the country. I was spellbound as they encountered each new difficulty as they struggle to reach their destination. This was a fascinating read both for the storyline and the historical events surrounding them. I very much enjoyed this novel and will see what else the author Rachael Barenbaum has to offer.
5.0 out of 5 starsPrepare yourself for an adventure!
Reviewed in Canada on July 14, 2019
What an engrossing story with a fascinating cast of characters. This book provides the reader with insights into physics as well as the life of a Jew living in war torn Russia. The characters flesh these out as they pursue their quest and passions. Follow the train of events which Bring the reader to their culmination.