Paula Rose Michelson wrote with brilliance her story of Naomi, for this teenager is forced to live a lie by omission of who she really is. We meet the teen at the beginning a peculiar lonely life in a strange new world. Her former world in Spain created grievous conditions for all of Jewish heritage and faith as they had to join the Catholic Church or face persecution, possibly death was a historical fact unknown to me in my naiveté that I find despicable, however vital to Naomi's story all inclusive in Spanish Harlem.
Coming to the United States on a free passage with plans to companion the elderly lady she accompanied soon went awry when death takes the lady and Naomi is abandoned at Ellis Island. Facing deportment and trembling in terror at the unknown, God intercedes and sends old Tia, a compassionate woman that offers to give her residence in exchange for her services without wages. Seeing no other choice, Naomi accepts without the knowledge of now being an illegal immigrant, and it is here that Paula Rose Michelson beings to weave intriguing stories within stories about the residents of Spanish Harlem and their respectful adoration toward the mistress of the casa, Tia's friends and those employed by her to run businesses in the community knew little about Naomi. They believed her to be just another of Tia's ‘ninas’ sheltered from deportation. Little did they or Naomi know what Tia has in the offing for them all.
Eventually, mystery, suspense and intrigue grow intense when the old Tia (named Madre Vida) nears death and wills the casa and all its responsibilities to Naomi. Madre Vida whispered many secrets to Naomi, and tells her where to find the instructions she would need to run…Overwhelmed and frightened by all the turn of events, Naomi learns Tia had been planning Naomi as her replacement all along. With her fate sealed, Naomi considers this is the mission God equipped her for and stands strong, her fear of being discovered as a Jew in Spain still a haunting cloud. She determined with her inheritance of wealth and good reputation that no one would dare question her heritage. She began to feel freedom.
Alas, Padre Paul the Catholic priest and Madre Vida's attorney Ralph Martinez become skeptical over Tia's choice of Naomi as her successor and schemed to assure she would not be led astray…decided to marry Naomi off to the right man…They set about finding the right potential husband for Naomi. Thus begins the sweet love story between Chaz and Naomi. Not that this union was without complications.
However, evil lurks within the casa when Lola, a trampish teenager rescued by Naomi at the most inopportune time decides to seduce….
The depth of Paula Rose Michelson's imagination mingled with her knowledge of complicated truth in history made for one of the most interesting novels I've yet read. The conclusion of this story is one big hook of bait the size of an anchor - and you'll be hooked!! You need to get Book Two of this saga, “Choosing to be” to find out what happens, or hang around until May when I'll be reviewing Book Two! To Paula Rose Michelson, I say WHEW, What a story! Praise God for blessing you with compassion for such a situation. http://amzn.to/1tN7hEp
To better understand the Spanish mind-set toward those of Jewish birth and faith, I recommend emphatically the reader go to the back of the book and read all that I did…or if you’re a stickler for knowing first things first, do that before you being this amazing read because the ‘Historical Notes, and ‘Sephardic Voices’ not only added to my enjoyment of the story but showed the intense research and study on Ms. Michelson's part that distinguish her talent and story above some others.
About Paula Rose Michelson