A Fist around the Heart.

Author:Rigby, Karen
Position:Book review

Heather Chisvin; A FIST AROUND THE HEART; Second Story Press (Fiction: Historical) 19.95 ISBN: 9781772600650

Byline: Karen Rigby

Heather Chisvin's pensive, eloquent novel traces the paths of two Russian Jewish sisters: one based in Winnipeg, the other in Manhattan; one who commits suicide, one a survivor left with unanswerable questions. It reveals the trauma that follows immigrants to new shores.

When Anna is called back to Canada, where she and her elder sister, Esther, were sent as children to avoid pogroms, she refuses to believe that Esther's death was a suicide. Through exchanges with a local inspector, her sister's journals, well-timed flashbacks, and a spiraling journey through her own memories, Anna weighs key events that shaped her family. A history of loss leads to a haunting portrait of Esther's mental illness.

With a graceful, realistic balance of fondness and dismay, Esther is drawn through Anna's memories as a fragile, elusive beauty, as much a burden as she is beloved. Anna, who left her adopted family's home under difficult circumstances, is made stronger by necessity.

Determined to stay in New York on her own terms, she moves from a...

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