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review 2014-08-23 00:15
All I Love and Know
All I Love and Know - Judith Frank

By Judith Frank
ISBN-13: 9780062302878
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 07/15/2014
Format: Audio
My Rating: 4 Stars


Judith Frank’s ALL I LOVE AND KNOW, is a riveting account of love and loss, diversity, adoption, and finding your way back from tragedy to something beautiful.


Matthew and Daniel, a gay couple residing in Northampton, MA (before gay marriage is legal), where they are in a comfortable relationship, until their world is turned upside down.


Daniel’s twin brother, Joel and sister-in-law, Ilana, have just been killed by a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, and the gay couple’s life has been totally uprooted, as their wishes for their children’s care is left in their will.


When Matthew and Daniel, find out they will have the responsibility for the care of two young children, they are not prepared for what lies ahead.


Daniel is a little more grounded of the two, (however, he can be controlling), as Matt is younger, and more of the NY club scene, and unsure he is ready for this new lifestyle.


To further complicate matters, the grandparents, devout Holocaust survivors, are not happy with this arrangement, nor the secular, American Rosen’s about their grandchildren being raised by Matt, whom they don't really like.


Daniel is under tremendous stress and is still grieving, as he chooses to bear all the responsibility, and feels he is in the middle. He becomes emotionally distant with Matt, while Gal acts out, due to the tragedy, and the new living conditions. Daniel begins pushing Matt away, and you can imagine what happens next – everything goes downhill.


ALL I LOVE AND KNOW  is a novel of flawed characters experiencing raw emotions, in a world and time of not so accepting gay couples, especially those raising children.


When the book begins, not a lot of likable characters, and they are dealing with much stress; however, as the story moves along it is a powerful, beautiful, and moving one of complex and rich characters. As they grow in their love, overcome challenges, communicate, and embrace their situation, they begin to experience real unconditional love, a true family bond, against all odds.


This was my first book by talented storyteller, Frank and look forward to reading Crybaby Butch, her first novel.


As always, the audiobook narrator, Peter Berkrot was divine, with a stellar performance!

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1024056593
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review 2014-06-25 00:00
All I Love and Know
All I Love and Know - Judith Frank There is so much about All I Love and Know. It is not just a story about a gay couple becoming parents. It is not just about a Jew and a Christian couple trying to reconcile their differences. It is not just about the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is not even solely about the loss of a beloved brother and the gap that leaves in a family. It is an amalgam of all of these scenarios and more. To separate out the story into its parts means to lose other key elements of Matt and Daniel’s relationship, to trivialize the various hardships of the characters, and to simplify a scenario that is anything but simple. One must take the good with the bad, the controversial topics with the safe, and look upon Daniel’s and Matt’s story as the sum of its parts.

The sum of All I Love and Know is a complex, eye-opening story about the issues gay couples face as couples and parents, the ongoing struggles for acceptance, and the compromises they must make to achieve a semblance of normalcy in a world not quite ready to accept them with open arms. More importantly, it is a story of grief and love. The loss of his twin leaves Daniel reeling in unimaginable ways that have deep-seated consequences for their future, just as Matt’s ambiguous role within the family leaves him struggling to find an acceptable balance between his own grief and his support of Daniel and his loved ones. It is a fascinating dichotomy, one that threatens to tear them apart rather than bring them together as parenthood should.

Daniel and Matt are an adorable couple, but they are also very real. Each is highly flawed, opinionated, unwilling to compromise, and completely lost in the new roles into which they are thrust. There is a beautiful gentleness to them both which endears them to readers even when their behavior is questionable. While they are without doubt the main characters of the story, there is an aspect of the underdog about them both, as if to say that even though they have come so far and overcome so many obstacles to obtain happiness together, the universe is not quite done stacking the deck against them. It is as if someone or something wants them to fall apart as a couple rather than live happily ever after. Their battle against these unknown factors is what makes the story so poignant.

All I Love and Know is not an easy novel to read. The frank nature of Matt and Daniel’s life together may cause conservative readers to squirm. Also, Ms. Frank does not shy away from controversial topics or sharing her strong opinions about such topics through her characters. However, in so doing, she forces her readers to learn more about a certain topic, to form an opinion, and to become actively engaged in the story. One can read and love ALL I LOVE AND KNOW without having to agree with Ms. Frank’s political statements because her ultimate goal is not to win people to her side but to inform. It is a crucial distinction that still requires on open mind and open heart while reading.

For all of its controversy, All I Love and Know is a simple and beautiful story at its core. Such emotions as grief and love transcend lifestyles and religions, something she tries to repeatedly emphasize. Matt and Daniel and their experiences together and apart in Jerusalem and the United States break down barriers and stereotypes and put the human back into humanity. It is a stunning, simple story that allows readers to ignore the intricacies of the world and focus on the quintessential core values – love and respect.
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