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Bagels & Salsa Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on March 22, 2018
 

Author: Lara Reznik

Publisher: Enchanted Indie Press, LLC

ISBN: 9781938749384



Author: Lara Reznik

Publisher: Enchanted Indie Press, LLC

ISBN: 9781938749384

Lara Reznik's most recent novel, Bagels & Salsa explores the theme of intercultural relationships and recounts the story of a young Jewish sociologist from New York, Laila Levin whose existence is turned completely upside down by her falling in love with a medical doctor, Eduardo Quintana from New Mexico where his family were ranchers for over three centuries.

The couple's first encounter takes place in the emergency room of the Bronx Lebanon Hospital where Laila is rushed in after falling from the stage of a High School where she had joined a panel of speakers who were discussing the impact and ramifications of teen pregnancies. Laila is hesitant when she first meets Eduardo but has to admit he is handsome. As for Eduardo, there was something about Laila that interested him- perhaps it was her vulnerability combined with her feistiness?

As their courtship unfolds, we discover that Laila had been previously married however the marriage was annulled when she discovered her husband making out with the wife of his best friend just after their marriage ceremony. We also learn of Eduardo's relationship with an old high-school fling that ended badly when she decided to ditch him to further her career as an actress in Los Angeles. Incidentally, Laila and Eduardo keep hidden from each other their respective prior love relationships.

Eduardo is determined to return to the tiny village of Sabinal, New Mexico and tries to convince Laila to follow him. However, he realizes that the odds of having a lasting love involvement between two people whose worlds were far apart are not promising. And even if Laila decides to follow him, how content would she be living in a vastly different culture than her own and in the boonies of Eduardo's beloved Land of Enchantment?

After some persuasive prodding and with the possibility that Laila would be able to continue her research on teen pregnancies, which is quite prevalent in northern New Mexico, Laila agrees to follow Eduardo. Sadly, little did she know she would be living in a trailer, isolated from her family and life in New York, and the open hostility, intimidation and disdain of Eduardo's mother. Not a very good recipe for a durable liaison.

Experiencing life in Sabinal for a few months, Laila begins to question her sanity and if she committed a disastrous mistake in moving to the backwoods of New Mexico to endure these challenges. Had she become so desperate for love after her first disastrous marriage, that she lost all semblance of rational thought? To magnify her distress, Laila recognizes that she is totally unprepared for the reality of an impoverished culture that so enables teen pregnancy. All of this means that her research would be more complex than she ever anticipated. Moreover, Eduardo does not appear to have even noticed her state of mind.

One of the strengths of this satisfying serious novel is that it forces you to engage in it as it highlights the various challenges pertaining to the delicate dynamics of intercultural relationships. In addition, it is a narrative that intently observes a couple trying to keep their lives from spinning out of control by grasping hopefully at love. Bear in mind that our culture shapes us even though we may believe that we share the same world view and vision for our future together when we first fall madly in love. In examining the complex relationship of Laila and Eduardo, Reznik provides a great deal of thoughtful insights into the love and dependence that tied the two together as well as their differences that isolated them. She even throws in some humor all of which make for an enjoyable literary experience.

Although Reznik is not staking out new territory with her yarn, she does come with considerable experience concerning the subject of her novel as she is a native New Yorker who escaped to New Mexico in the 1970s and later married someone from there whose family, just as Eduardo's, were ranchers for over three hundred years. According to the back cover of the book, her marriage of 30-plus years is the basis for exploring the theme of celebrating cultural differences.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Lara Reznik