“The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish

I’ll be honest; this book was pretty tough for me. I wasn’t even going to write about it, but here I am 2 months after finishing the book still thinking about it. That’s when I realized that the measure of a good book isn’t always how readable it is, or even necessarily fun to read. Sometimes a good book is one that challenges our thoughts, beliefs, or just plain pops us outside our cozy bubbles for a bit and think.

At first glance, The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish is a story both about the discovery of a set of old Rabbinical documents and the story of the woman who wrote them. What I signed up for and what I got were very different things. It’s a winding, multifaceted story about the love and heartbreaks of almost every character in the book peppered with Jewish diaspora and anti-Semitism. I told you this wasn’t an easy read.

But I also couldn’t stop myself from finishing it. I wanted to know where it was all headed. The end of the book was fairly anticlimactic for me (sorry), but it’s the smaller in between moments that always come back to me: The discussions about a woman’s place in Judaism; the really beautiful way that the author wrote not only about Jewish life in 17th century England, but actually took the time to write it in its own dialect; the difficult decisions people make in interfaith relationships; and the consideration of whether people who survive horrific events like the Inquisition are doing good by surviving or if they are traitors to their people and identity. That’s just to name a few.

This isn’t a book for light reading or escape, but I can understand why it’s highly regarded. If you take the time to read this book, I hope you really take the time to pause and reflect. Rachel Kadish really is a masterful storyteller, even while she confronts us with uncomfortable truths and character moments. If you’ve already read this book, I’d love to know what you thought of it in the comments below.

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