Ribbons For Their Hair
By Estelle Chasen
Gefen Publishing House (2010), 204 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - June 2, 2010
This delightful mystery-romance has two plots that converge in an emotional and satisfying ending. Three females have similar names. Two are Jewish children named Adina and Adena; both are three years old and are separated from their parent(s). The third is a detective named Yardena, who is beautiful, smart, dedicated, and an unmarried observant Israeli Jew. The story of the Israeli girl Adina occurs in Israel in 2006. Adina's parents are divorced and the rabbinical court, which decides custody issues in Israel, gave custody of Adina to her mother. Adina disappears on a Shabbat afternoon under suspicious circumstances. Detective Yardena, a comparatively new detective, is assigned the lead position to find Adina. She wonders why she was given this role. She wonders also how Adina could disappear if, as her mother claims, she was watching her. Is she telling the truth? Is she a competent custodial parent?
Adena's story occurs in 1945 in Salonika, Greece, during the end of the Second World War. Adena is placed in a Roman Catholic Convent to save her life. She is taught Catholic teachings. Her mother is killed why fighting Nazi forces. Will she be rescued by her father? Will she be able to accommodate herself to Judaism? What will be her relations in the future with the sister's in the convent? A boy, a dozen years her senior watched over her in the convent. Will there be a relationship in the future?
The plot becomes thickens when Detective Yardena feels a strong emotional attraction to the missing girl's father, the prime suspect in Adina's disappearance. Tension builds when war breaks out between Israel and Lebanon and Adina's father is called to duty. Suspense increases still further when Adina and Adena's stories converge.