Echo Still

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A Time of Angels Book CoverWhat the Book is About:

Fig’s mom died when he was little, but otherwise his life is like a normal seventh grader’s: he lives for soccer, his science teacher hates him, and he’s being forced to go to bar mitzvah classes. Then his beloved grandmother, Gigi, comes to live with them, and Fig’s life changes as he comes to understand some important things about Judaism, his family, and himself.

Jewish Content and Values

  • When Fig’s grandmother moves in, the Newtons keep kosher and have Shabbat dinner on Friday nights.
  • They make latkes (potato pancakes) and light the menorah for Chanukah, and the extended family gathers for a Passover seder.
  • On Christmas day, Fig’s father and grandmother volunteer at a soup kitchen, showing loving-kindness (chesed) to those less fortunate.
  • Fig is studying for his bar mitzvah (Jewish boy's coming-of-age ceremony).

Positive Role Models

  • Fig’s grandmother, Gigi, is an observant Jew and an empathetic person. She helps Fig to appreciate the beauty of Judaism and to embrace his religious heritage.
  • Fig’s father, Jeffrey, is not Jewish, but he promised his dying Jewish wife that he would raise their son in her faith, including ensuring that Fig has a bar mitzvah, and he adheres to that promise. He also invites his mother-in-law to live with them when she needs medical care.

Content Advisory

Fig’s mother died of cancer when he was very young, and his grandmother is diagnosed with cancer and her condition deteriorates to the point that it is clear she will die. The illness and loss of Fig’s close family members may be upsetting to some readers.
When his father explains about his mother’s cancer diagnosis in an emotionally intense scene, Fig responds with the mild expletive, “That sucks.”

Talk it Over

When Fig hits Gus after Gus plays dirty, Coach suspends Fig from the team, but not Gus, even though coach admits that “the other guy does deserve a good whacking.” Do you think Coach is right to take the action he does? Why or why not?

More For You

Soccer (called “football” in many countries) is officially the most popular sport in the world, so it’s no surprise that some professional players have been Jewish. Of course, Israel leads the list of the countries with the most Jewish soccer players. More unexpected is that there have been 19 Hungarian Jewish players over the years, while Argentina has had 13. In terms of American players, Tennessee-born Aaron Schoenfeld currently plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League, while three out of the 23 players in the United States squad at the 2010 World Cup have at least one Jewish parent: midfielder Benny Feilhaber, and defenders Jonathan Bornstein and Jonathan Spector. International superstar David Beckham has described his Jewish grandfather as his “footballing inspiration”. In 2016 Beckham made his first ever appearance at a Jewish event, in an interview at London’s Jewish community center.