Fun read with depth; thoughts on Blintzes and Blunts and Blowies, Oh My! by Gabriela Kalter
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It’s been a while since I had as much joy reading a book as I had when I devoured “Blintzes and Blunts and Blowies, Oh My!.” My pleasure was first derived from individual sentences. They were cleverly, yet seemingly effortlessly, constructed that produced not just a natural flow, but introduced a serious fun factor. Here are some of my favorites.
- The weekend had come and gone, leading the way for Monday once again; the day that intrusively cuts short the joys of freedom and brings people back to the grim reality of a world run by money, status, and spending the majority of your day wishing time would pass.
- [The bookstore] was filled with other people who you didn’t have to talk to, yet with whom you shared the same experience and a certain level of unspoken trust.
- As you grow older, and the realities of the world become more obvious to you, it’s hard to hang on to that innocence – the innocence of not knowing and being completely free to wreak havoc and still be cute because you’re a kid
- Despite her current feelings, Lea knew intellectually that she could never be anyone but herself and that her uniqueness was where her true beauty lay and all that, but sometimes it was just so hard to buy that self-soothing bullshit.
- This was one of those evenings that a guy arranges to impress the shit out of his date, and Lea was impressed. All the shit was impressed right out of her.
For me, three other factors made the book worthwhile for reading. The first is coming from the masterful use of its format: almost the entire book is presented as an inner dialogue written from the first-person perspective. Normally we have so many thoughts at any given moment in our head that it takes some sort of selection of what comes to the surface or stays with us. Here we can follow along with someone else’s ramblings. It is painful, exhilarating, and radically personal to get into someone else’s mind that at the same time deeply satisfies our curiosity. I believe we all wanted to know at one point or another how someone else’s EXACTLY feels and thinks and here is our chance. There were no taboos observed here–any and every area of life was explored–except when the person whose mind we inhabit refrained herself from something. Even then we get to know the whys. For this reason, already the book was extremely delightful to read.
Second, I observed how emphatic I felt when I could and did identify with some of the feelings and life situations of the protagonist. Even though I am a 50+, European male and she is a 20+ American female. But the themes explored are universal and quite a bit Jewish too. On a few occasions, I was concerned that the author would fall into the trap of utilizing Jewish stereotypes too much. But while she clearly amused herself and the readers by making fun of them at the end she always managed to overcome the temptation and made the characters’ choices move beyond the stereotypes and just simply driven by human emotions.
Finally, I appreciated the somewhat surprising ending. Sorry, a minor spoiler follows. Instead of a cathartic or even redemptive ending, Ms. Kalter opted to take the high road: showing the journey is as or more important than the goal. This is despite the communal pressure a lot of Jews (and others too) feel to “make it”, including getting married, having kids, and reaching a steady, well-paid, and regarded job. Happiness may but necessarily include these. A much bigger task is to get to know and make peace with your own self. By the end of the book, our heroine is well on her way there.
I am looking forward to Gabriela Kalter’s next book because this one was impressive in so many ways: the language and tone were simple yet sophisticated, the plot was easy to follow, yet had its twist, the heroine’s (and he mother’ too) character developed in the right directions and ways and the whole book was just pure joy to read.
Disclaimer: I have received an electronic copy of this book from the author for review.
Featuring a droll cocktail of millennial angst and dark humor, Blintzes and Blunts and Blowies, Oh My! gives the reader a candid look into the life of Lea Silber, a directionless twenty-something with an overactive mind. As she navigates the confusion about what to do with her life, she is preoccupied with finding her “bashert” (Jewish soulmate) – some destined mystery man who has seemingly taken a detour on his way into her life. To make things worse, the search is only intensified under the scrutiny of her meddlesome mother, Judy. Blintzes and Blunts and Blowies, Oh My! is an irreverent comedy with a little something for everyone. It’s Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Prozac Nation; it’s Fiddler on the Roof meets My Horizontal Life.It’s a story for anyone who’s been searching for love in all the wrong places, and sometimes even the right ones, but can’t seem to find it.
It’s for anyone who’s tired of attaching their worth to their relationship status, and for the ones who don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s even for every parent who unwittingly contributes to the chaos with their illusory expectations. This is a novel for anyone seeking relatable content that somewhat normalizes the strange thoughts that pass through, and sometimes cling to, our complex minds. It’s a story for anyone struggling with negative self-talk, and anyone who tends to treat themselves like shit in the privacy of their own head. Mostly, it’s a story about self-love, and the journey of finding the only “one” that can truly make you whole – yourself.
Year first published: 2020