The Story Of... by Shirley B Novack follows Jacob Kalinsky, born in Poland in 1904. His father, Max, is a poor chicken farmer in the town of Koretzis, and he is a bad-tempered man who has no patience, especially for his children. When Jacob's sweet and loving mother dies, he is just 12 and he and his nine-year-old brother are sent to live in a brothel. They are under the care of Jordanna, a kind woman who runs the brothel, but it will be three years before Jacob's father comes for them. By that time, the young Jacob is already a broken man — abused and raped by a Polish soldier. The experience of rape is one that will remain a secret buried in his heart and he will remain burdened by it. As an adult, he meets the soldier who raped him in the US. Can he give back the pain he has borne in his heart for all these years?
Shirley B Novack's biography moves fast and the short chapters make the story more enjoyable. The first tragedy in Jacob's life is introduced in the opening chapters and it forms a compelling premise for this spellbinding tale. The pain of losing a mother at a tender age is magnified by the fact that Sarah is the only joy in Jacob's life. The conditions of poverty are vividly described in the book and from the start of the book, readers get a strong feeling that life will be hard for Jacob. The prose is gorgeous and the descriptive writing is littered with natural-sounding and engaging dialogues. The author is deft at writing richly drawn settings and capturing the emotions of the characters in a compelling manner. The Story Of...is an overall enjoyable story that never lacks pathos.