Not Me – Michael Lavigne

Book review cover one

I’ve made it a blogging goal for this year to post more book reviews, as I spend a lot of my down time reading.  First up is Not Me, one of the more unique stories I’ve read so far this year.

What would happen if someone you revered your entire life turned out to not be the person you thought they were? This is the central theme of Michael Lavigne’s debut novel, Not Me. It’s the story of a middle-aged Jewish man named Michael who is watching his elderly father, Heshel,  slowly die of Alzheimer’s. After receiving a box of his father’s old journals from a mysterious benefactor, Michael learns that the man he believed was the most pious Jew he had ever known was  a Nazi bookeeper who assumed a Jewish identity after the war to escape prosecution for his crimes.  Michael is stunned, and as he reads his father’s autobiography, he becomes angry and confused. How could one person live so brazen a lie for so long?

The story is told both through the journal entries and Michael’s responses to them, and I enjoyed Heshel’s story more than Michael’s. I didn’t like Heshel at all, but I found myself wondering what I would have done to escape a similarly bleak situation. Heshel was an accountant responsible for keeping an inventory of the belongings of the prisoners. His journals mention several times that he had an office away from the main part of the camp and he never saw what was really happening. Does that make him as guilty as those who made the laws or killed the prisoners? Did he have a duty to try and stop what was happening? Could he have stopped it if he’d tried?  These questions are what make Not Me a compelling read despite it being more of a character study than a true novel. What I didn’t like were the interactions between Michael, his son and ex-wife. I suppose they were the author’s attempts to humanize his responses to the journal entries, and to show that life goes on, even in the midst of emotional upheaval, but Michael could have been single and the story would have been the same.  Overall, Not Me is a book that raises many philosophical questions and is one I enjoyed.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

7 thoughts on “Not Me – Michael Lavigne

  1. Hi, I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog – glad to know there is another stitcher out there who can relate to the Acme School of Stitching 🙂 What project are you working on? The book you reviewed sounds fascinating – definitely will have to put it on my to-read list! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Oh I’m working on several projects, but the one that has been the big pain in the rear is the Air Force logo I’m working on for my cousin. I’ve had to frog the center six times because it wasn’t symetrical and the other mistakes have come from only being one or two stitches off….I love to stich but it doesn’t always love me. I think the book is worth your time, even though it’s not quite what I thought it would be. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by….

    • Thanks for stopping by. This book raises a lot of philosophical questions and really made me stop and think. Not the best book I’ve read this year, but it wouldn’t be a waste of time if you read it…

  2. Yeah it’s kind of a hard book….you can’t have any sympathy for Heshel, though it makes you think about what you’d do in similar circumstances. Who’s to say? Thanks for stopping by:)

  3. What an interesting concept (journal entries + reflections on them). Definitely going to add to my “To-Read” list. My takeaway is that we never really know our parents ~ what fears drive them to do what they do and be who they are.

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