The Trick – By Emanuel Bergmann


The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: Atria Books (Sept. 19 2017)

ISBN-13: 978-1501155826

Synopsis: A deeply moving, humorous story of a boy who believes in everything and an old man who believes in nothing.

In 1934, a rabbi’s son in Prague joins a traveling circus, becomes a magician, and rises to fame under the stage name the Great Zabbatini just as Europe descends into World War II. When Zabbatini is discovered to be a Jew, his battered trunk full of magic tricks becomes his only hope of surviving the concentration camp where he is sent.

Seven decades later in Los Angeles, ten-year-old Max finds a scratched-up LP that captured Zabbatini performing his greatest tricks. But the track in which Zabbatini performs his love spell—the spell Max believes will keep his disintegrating family together—is damaged beyond repair. Desperate for a solution, Max seeks out the now elderly, cynical magician and begs him to perform his magic on his parents. As the two develop an unlikely friendship, Moshe discovers that Max and his family have a surprising connection to the dark, dark days the Great Zabbatini experienced during the war.

* * *

I was excited to read this book based on the WWII content and the parallels I was told it had to novels like: The Nightingale and All The Light We Cannot See. From the very first pages there was a humor to this book that is definitely not evident in the comparable books. Bergmann’s writing is unique and truly his own style in this novel, which makes it hard for me to agree with the comparison to All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale. There was something different about this novel that takes it out of the same categories as these books – a creativity that made it less “literary”/serious in my mind and more of a fun read.

I loved the two separate stories that Bergmann had going – one in the past and one in the present – and I found myself unable to put the book down as I waited for the worlds to meet. Both the characters of Max Cohn and Moshe Goldenhirsch will stay with me for weeks and months to come as Bergmann created characters that came alive and walked off the pages.

The uniqueness of this story was magical – pun intended – and I truly enjoyed the story. Fans of the comparable books will enjoy The Trick, but I think there is an audience for this book that is outside this group due to the humour intertwined in the story.

Rating: 9.5/10

* I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Simon & Schuster Canada


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