Run You Down by Julia Dahl (Minotaur, June 2015)
In the sequel to Invisible City, Julia Dahl’s protagonist, New York City newspaper reporter Rebekah Roberts once again covers a story that brings her face to face with the Jewish heritage, only this time it may bring her face to face with the mother who abandoned her as an infant twenty-three years ago. Rebekah is asked to look into the death of a young Hasidic mother whose death was ruled a suicide. Pessie’s husband is certain she would never have killed herself and asks Rebekah for her help as she is able to straddle both worlds with her ever increasing knowledge of her heritage and another foot firmly planted in the secular world. As Rebekah begins to chase down some leads, she learns she has a young uncles Sam, who may be able to lead Rebekah to her mother, but who may also be the key to Pessie’s death and other violence against the Hassidic in upstate New York.
Told in alternating chapters readers will learn of Rebekah’s mother Aviva Kagan’s decision to leave her Jewish life in Brooklyn to follow a boy to Florida and of her decisions and reasons to leave Rebekah with her father and essentially disappear. Aviva’s story is full of heartbreak, but sets the groundwork for what is to come as Rebekah learns how hard it is to free yourself, not only from personal demons, but from the demons passed down through your family. Tightly plotted and written in a way that sheds light on the customs and a way of life that may not be familiar to all, in an easy, natural way. Rebekah struggles with wanting to meet her mother and learn why she left as Rebekah struggles with her own life; even with the gaps in her maternal history, Rebekah has a good sense of self and seems well-grounded. A complicated mystery with a startling conclusion adds to this well written story of family identity and religious identity as well as the importance of remaining true to self.