Soul to Soul
Writings from Dark Places
By Deborah Masel
Gefen Publishing House, 2011, 184 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - August 23, 2011
Although this book is an autobiographical depiction of a part of Deborah Masel's life, it reads like a suspenseful novel because Masel is a good writer who teaches writing and who wrote several books, including two novels. She also edited a book by a mystical rabbi who was murdered in the holocaust, whose world view influenced her greatly and gave her a sense of meaning as she coped with her incurable cancer. This is a book that can help other cancer victims, but because of its style, it will interest many people.
She writes that she will be telling "many stories…rivers and rivulets and creeks. This story is about my cancer, it's about the ocean where all the rivers meet." I would describe her writing style as being like sea shore waves. The crests of the waves are her tale about discovering a cancer at age 50 that will kill her and how she copped with the terrible sentence. Yet, as she tells us about the cancer, as with waves, she constantly dips down to other interesting subjects. These include her upbringing; early life; use of drugs; losing her virginity at age 16; failed seven year marriage; panic in Safed in Israel during an attack upon the city from Lebanon; saving a man she found lying at the bottom of a pool in Singapore; a relationship with a philandering rabbi who took advantage of her; a man who stalked her believing she was his wife in another incarnation; discovery of Zionism in London; life in Australia; meeting another rabbi who introduced her to mysticism, kabala, and Judaism generally; meeting with her partner Doug; teaching Torah; the books she wrote; and the reactions of her mother and children to her cancer.
Readers will find out that while many people helped her cope with her cancer, some doctors did not. They became impatient with her simple understandable questions. "'Look,' says he. 'I don't have time for this.'" A female doctor shouted at her: "Stop crying! There's nothing I can do!"
In short, this is an interesting well-told story.