Martha Goldenthal isn’t your typical 1960s Berkeley radical. Her rebellion isn’t sex, drugs, or rock ’n’ roll―it’s doing well at Berkeley High and planning for college. Her father, Jules, is a raging batterer who, because of his own insecurities, hates academia. Not that her off-the-rails mother, Willa, is much better. Meanwhile, Jules’s classical record store, located directly across the street from the U.C. Berkeley campus, is ground zero for riots and tear gas. No wonder Martha has a nervous tic―a shrug of the shoulder.
Preoccupied with the family situation and barely able to concentrate, Martha plods along in school and somehow manages to achieve. But her parents’ hideous divorce, the loss of her father’s record store and livelihood, a heartless eviction from the family home, and an unlikely custody case wind up putting Martha in Jules’s care. Can she stand up to her father and do the one thing she’s sure she must―go to college?
With its running “soundtrack” of classical recordings and rock music and its vivid scenes of Berkeley at its most turbulent, Shrug is the absorbing, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting story of one young woman’s journey toward independence.
Lisa Braver Moss is a new to me author, and I am glad that I was introduced to her. Lisa Braver Moss writes a great story about Martha, a teenager growing up in the 1960s and her family. A wonderfully descriptive story about the struggles Martha has as the “odd duck” of her family with a mother who thinks that much of the world damages a child’s psyche, and a father who is abusive, yet loving, to his wife and children. With an older sister who can do no wrong and a younger brother who is the baby of the family, Martha finds herself trying to please everyone and yet is miserable at the same time. Lisa Braver Moss has a way of telling the story of Martha in such a way that you feel all that she is feeling and want nothing more than a happy ending for her. Although set in the 1960s, I felt like I knew exactly what it was like to grow up in the 1960s even though I was born 20 years later. I really enjoyed Lisa Braver Moss writing and the characters that she developed. I enjoyed rooting for Martha throughout the story, while at the same time knowing that nothing was going to change for her. I really enjoyed this book, and hope you will too!!!
About the Author
Lisa Braver Moss is the author of the novels The Measure of His Grief (Notim Press, 2010) and the award-winning Shrug (She Writes Press, 2019). Her essays have appeared in the Huffington Post, Tikkun, Parents, Lilith, and many other publications.
Lisa’s nonfiction book credits include Celebrating Family: Our Lifelong Bonds with Parents and Siblings (Wildcat Canyon Press, 1999) and, as co-author, The Mother’s Companion: A Comforting Guide to the Early Years of Motherhood (Council Oak Books, 2001). She is the co-author of Celebrating Brit Shalom (Notim Press, 2015), the first-ever book of ceremonies and music for Jewish families seeking alternatives to circumcision.
Born in Berkeley, California, Lisa still lives in the area with her husband, with whom she has two grown sons.