Monday, March 26, 2012

Kasher in the Rye by Moshe Kasher

The book subtitle pretty much sums it up: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16. Born to deaf parents, Moshe Kasher's life was different from the norm from the start. After they divorced, his parents went in very different ways. His mother (Kasher's primary custodial parent) became a student with a strong feminist streak that manifested through bashing her ex-husband at every opportunity. His father threw himself into his Judaism and eventually married into the Satmars, a Chassidic sect. Before he was five, people were already trying to figure out what was 'wrong' with him, and in what might be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy, Kasher later turned to drugs, alcohol, and crime. This is the story of how a kid with a seventh-grade education and a very smart mouth navigated the dark hole that he went down - and how he got back out.

Kasher in the Rye is more than just an awesome title with a clever cover. It's a very funny, very honest, very compelling memoir. In writing about his early life, Kasher points out the factors that had an impact on his life without getting bogged down in assigning blame. The candor with which he writes gives this book an authenticity and it made me root for this messed up boy who was doing such terrible things. There's a part of me that would love a counterpoint memoir from his brother, not because I want to disprove anything in this book or poke holes in it, but I am just so genuinely curious about what things were like from his brother's perspective. Some of the scenes just scream cinematic potential  (the secret intervention from an interpreter, the discovery of a deaf kid at one of his schools), which again speaks to the pictures that Kasher is able to paint with words. I want more from him and his point of view - there is his comedy, of course, but I'm also greedy enough to want more books from him.

Find out more information about him at his website.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Teen Angst? Naaah by Ned Vizzini
We All Fall Down by Nic Sheff

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