Who by Fire by Diana Spechler

You may remember when Diana Spechler, author of Who by Fire, guest posted here? Well it’s time for my review.

Who by Fire by Diana SpechlerWho by Fire tells the story of Ash and Bits, a brother and sister whose younger sister Alena had been kidnapped more than a decade ago. When their mother informs them that her remains have finally been discovered, it’s up to wild child Bits to go to Israel and convince her now Orthodox Jew brother to come home for a memorial service—no easy feat as he’s been out of touch with the family since entering the yeshiva.

The book is told from shifting perspectives, really getting into the minds of the various characters. I’m no expert on Orthodox Judaism, so I can’t comment on how accurate the scenes in Israel might be, but I do know that I couldn’t put this book down.

None of the characters are particularly lovable, at least not for me, but that didn’t stop me from devouring this book—I believe it’s called the train wreck syndrome. What I mean is that each character is a bit (or a lot) of a mess—the book itself is far from a train wreck. Indeed, it’s fabulous.

The plotting, pacing, and writing all shine; I particularly love Spechler’s conversational, down-to-earth writing style, which you might not expect in a book with such deep subject matter. Spechler shows that humor has a place everywhere, even when dealing with heavy topics, and this is something that I firmly believe as well.

I give this books five espresso cups out of five. I simply couldn’t stop reading, and as I wrote to Diana after I finished, I then found myself imagining what happened to the main characters—the true sign of a great book.


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18 Beans of Wisdom to “Who by Fire by Diana Spechler”
  1. I remember when you read this book (and loved it!) Count me in.

    Cherrye at My Bella Vita’s last blog post..Tour del Gelato: Gelateria Cesare in Reggio Calabria (Calabria)

    Would definitely save on shipping if you won…. 😉

  2. Sounds like a great read! Five out of five cups? This one must go on my list.

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..Some inspiration from Decor8.


  3. 06.08.2009

    I won! Yeah! Can’t wait to read it!

    Nicole’s last blog post..Delicious

    Will send it off soon!

  4. 06.08.2009

    Wow! Thank you for the beautiful review!

    My pleasure Diana 🙂

  5. AppleTree

    The books sounds like an excellent read. I may have to pick up a copy.

    Perhaps you’ll win one 🙂

  6. 06.08.2009

    Wow, five out of five. This must be a great book!

    Lori’s last blog post..Celebration

    I certainly enjoyed it, Lori 🙂

  7. 06.09.2009

    I love books you can’t put down! I’d love to read this one. 🙂

    Michele’s last blog post..Blogging: How Does it Affect You?

    Good luck, Michele!

  8. 06.09.2009

    Okay, it sounds like this book might not be my cup of tea, but you are so enthusiastic about it, I’m probably going to check it out anyway. I have to wait until I’m less… verklempt, is all I can come up with!

    I’m reading a fabulous book now, and I have two more in line… but maybe after?

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..Some Book Fun: Books that Stay with You

    Hey, that’s what huge book piles are for, right? 😉

  9. 06.09.2009

    Hi Michelle! Sounds like an intriguing read! Can I play?

    Vanessa’s last blog post..love thursday – the heart tree

    Of course Vanessa!

  10. rel

    If the book is half as good as your review then it’s a must read. Sign me up.

    You’re in, rel!

  11. wow! 5 out of 5 – must be worth it! I’d love to enter, only if I am qualified to. 🙂

    Of course you’re eligible, Grace! Best of luck 🙂

  12. 06.09.2009

    Ciao, ciao!

    I don’t usually get to read such interesting books, since backed up on non-fiction books I HAVE to read, so I must admit I’m curious about this one, and would like to see if there is an Ebook version.

    If I’m not mistaken –but correct me if I’m wrong, since I don’t know much about Judaism either– the name of the book, “Who by Fire” is taken from a Hebrew prayer on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) a day to reflect and atone for wrongs done against Him, but to right wrongs against another **person** you MUST seek that person for forgiveness.

    So even if the characters are afflicted with the train-wreck syndrome, it would be nice and uplifting if righting wrongs is an underlying theme… 🙂

    Yes, the phrase “Who by Fire” comes directly from Judaism; righting wrongs as a theme? I’m not sure I’d say that exactly….

  13. 06.09.2009

    Hi Michelle – I have an ever-growing to be read pile. This sounds like it needs to be added! It would be a bonus to win a copy.

    Kathleen Rainwater’s last blog post..Steppin’ Out at Seward Park

    Best of luck Kathleen!

  14. 06.09.2009

    Sounds like a great book. I would love a chance to win a copy.

    Best of luck!

  15. 06.12.2009

    I just backed out of a trip to Israel….if I win this book…in a way I get to go. 🙂
    .-= Romancing Italy´s last blog ..Images of French Countryside and Life in Upper Provence =-.

    Best of luck!

  16. 06.13.2009

    Sign me up. I love your book reviews.

    xo E.

    Best of luck, Esme! And thank you 🙂

    .-= Esme´s last blog ..Obama’s Blackberry Giveaway =-.

  17. 06.13.2009

    Would love to be entered 🙂

    You’re in!

  18. 06.15.2009

    Hey there, long time no see. Your book reviews are so helpful, especially for expats like me who order their English books online – a good recommendation is priceless! Hope you, your honey & the kids are all well and enjoying the summer. Pls drop by the blog to say hi, am also running a giveaway you might love for your kitchen

    Great contest! And I’m glad you liked the review 🙂

    .-= Erika´s last blog ..Lékué Luki LEMON SQUEEZER! =-.



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake