“All Other Nights” by Dara Horn

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the Coronavirus Pandemic turned our world upside-down. For me, it started in mid-March, but I know that for many others, it began sooner. It was about one month in that I began my journey in Jewish literature. What started as a way for me to feel connected to the Jewish community soon grew into a project in sharing what books I’ve found and enjoyed in my searches.

All Other Nights by Dara Horn was the first book that I read, but it’s only now that I’m sharing it with you. Why, you ask? I wanted to wait until we were all preparing for Passover since the holiday is largely featured in the book. By the time I had finished reading the book and began writing about books on the blog, it was already June.

All Other Nights is probably my favorite book that I’ve read in the last year. I can prove it since it’s the only one of the books that I’ve read that I actually purchased after borrowing it from my local library.

Taking place during the American Civil War, our journey begins with our protagonist, Union soldier Jacob Rappaport, being given a strange assignment. He is asked to sneak across enemy lines to visit his aunt and uncle in Louisiana and stop a plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Upon the success of his mission, he then finds himself an official Union spy whose next mission is to marry a Confederate spy in Virginia.

Beautifully written and deeply complex, it took me a bit longer than usual to read this book. It’s broken down into 8 parts, however, which makes it easier to digest in sections. As I’ve said before, I’m not afraid of a book that makes its reader think through tough topics, and this is certainly one of those books.

Overall, I believe that the overarching theme of the book is the question of whether or not we are in charge of our own fate. The book also pits the irony of slaveholders celebrating Passover, and challenges the idea that people are all good or all bad. Get ready for a heck of a ride through history, and don’t forget to enjoy Dara Horn’s exceptional ability to transplant you directly into the story.

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