The Sea Beach Line: Ben Nadler
Searching for truths is not always easy and learning what they are can be frightening. When Izzy Idel goes in search of his father to learn whether he is really alive or dead, it leads him on a roller coaster ride or rocky path that will take him through the streets of New York, to Brooklyn, to the outer skirts of his mind in order to find out who he really is, where his father might be and the truth behind Alojzoy Idel. Two pieces of information spur his curiosity and send him to Coney Island. First, a postcard from his father and the second a note-card from Semyon Goddov of Brooklyn which stated that his father was missing but was he or was he really gone? Izzy’s past was checkered and having been expelled from college he decided to take the Q train to the Brighton Beach Station and from there the adventure begins as he walked the boardwalk, looking at his surroundings and trying to get a sense of his father and his past. Energized by his own emotions Izzy faces the past as he walks up the boardwalk, sees a tackle shop where his father bought crab traps and the author takes us back in time to where and when he and is father actually went crab fishing but first we meet Goddov and learn more about his relationship with his father, a painting that would change it all and where he spent the greater part of his life in America. The house, a fixture in bohemian Greenwich Village and the few paintings that survived but most in the museum and another Galuth painting surfaces. As he sees the paintings and the history behind them is revealed, Izzy is taken deeper into the world of his father.
A gold key would change it all as Izzy finds the storage locker owned by his father, the two men that own it and hopefully will be able to continue with his father’s legacy by becoming him. What would happen if he gave it all up and continued his father’s work as a street vendor selling books? Entering the locker what he finds is a plethora of books on different subjects, sketch pads filled with pictures that come to life as he walks the streets and puts real people or faces to the pictures and a new home for himself. Staying with his sister Becca in her rich apartment did not seem to make him feel whole. Her boyfriend Andrew a businessman seemed nice and his mother and stepfather would gladly take him back with them. But, Izzy is determined and enters a world that is filled with danger, corruption, drugs and murder. Learning that his father studied art under communism and he and Goldov were both expelled. Was he spreading a rumor about his father? Was his father dead or alive? Just who would know the truth? On the street he befriends another older vendor named Mendy who shows him the ropes and helps him sort out his stock, find a place on the street and takes him under his wing. But, someone is watching his every move he just doesn’t know it. Learning more about his father he meets Roman and Timur two friends of his fathers who lead Izzy down a path of no return. As the story moves on and the places within Brooklyn and New York increase as he visits many, finds himself living within the space of a storage locker hoping to feel his father’s presence, become his father and take over his life until he comes back. Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and all across Brooklyn, Knickerbocker Avenue and NYU University Izzy follows his instinct and then something changes. He finds a young runaway girl named Rayna who becomes his life and decides to live with him inside the storage locker. Sad, abused by someone close to her, she runs away from her religious father and home sleeping in a tree, living on the streets and hoping to find safety.
The history and research into the Jewish customs, the Bible and the art is quite extensive and the friendships he makes are dangerous. An alliance with Roman and Timur lead him to do favors entering him in a world that is new to him, naïve to say the least and just might get him killed. Asked to deliver envelopes, join in heists and other dangerous incidents, Izzy thinks he is helping and being loyal to the same people that his father trusted. But, lies, betrayals, deceits and murder will become part of his life. Added in his sister’s future husband gets arrested and things spiral downhill for his entire family.
With his stepfather and mother trying to guide him and explain certain things and the truth about his father about to be revealed Izzy learns that each person that his father met, befriended and thought might help him learn the truth lied. When listening to Goldov he believed him to a point but when confronting him in a different way the story comes out and the twist the author created and surprise you will not expect. With Rayna as his constant companion what happens when she is kidnapped and taken away? Why did she really run away? Why would Goldov betray him leading Rayna back home? What is the bargaining chip for him to see her one more time? What will happen if he fails to follow the instructions given to him? Just how dangerous are Roman and Timur and what does he learn but too late?
Rayna is quite interesting and what they share touching as each one opens up to the other and relates his/her story to each other and readers. Traditions observed as simple and special as lighting Shabbos Candles, observing the Sabbath, talking about her father and helping himself understand why he needed to learn the truth. But, sometimes things are not what they seem and those he loves or loved someone other than he thought. Take the trip on the Sea Beach Line, enter the storage locker, hear the conversations between Rayna and Izzy and find out what happens. As the author shares the story of Abraham and Isaac learn what Izzy finds out about sacrifice, loyalty and trust. A story that is not over and a young man who has many roads to travel and lessons to learn. Just where will he wind up? What about Rayna? Take the journey and find out!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine