Monday, June 10, 2019

"A Bend In The Stars"

Rachel Barenbaum is a graduate of Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor, before moving to the New Hampshire woods to write. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Literature and Philosophy from Harvard College.

Barenbaum applied the Page 69 Test to A Bend in the Stars, her first novel, and reported the following:
A Bend In The Stars is set in 1914 Russia. The novel is focused on the brother and sister duo of Miri and Vanya. When the book opens, the two are snared by the Czar’s army as his forces tighten their grip on the local Jewish community in preparation for war with Germany and brother and sister are forced to run for their lives. They should run from Russia, but Vanya refuses to leave the country until he’s snapped a photograph of the total solar eclipse due over Russia– a photograph that will help him prove the theory of relativity and thereby beat Einstein. His stubbornness puts them in extreme danger and it is Miri who saves them. She is the hero.

When readers first meet Miri, she is one of Russia’s first female surgeons. She is already a trailblazer in terms of her career but the personal and the professional are not always aligned, and readers follow her journey as she discovers the depths of her courage and love. She is the character that grows the most, that is tested the most. And she is the character that recognizes her limitations, not because of her abilities but because she is a Jew and because Russia has no tolerance for Jews. We see this transformation beginning on page 69:
(Miri) grabbed the misshapen pot, whipped around meaning to defend them with it, but in that same instant, he (a soldier) took hold of her wrist and the two were locked together. The pot in her fist hung suspended over them. The soldier looked surprised by her strength, by the fact that she didn’t let go or give in. But he was stronger and he seemed to like taunting her, not overpowering her as quickly as he could. She understood that once she stopped fighting, he’d be merciless.
Just as that individual soldier was merciless, so too was the Czar and this is the moment when Miri realizes that her only way forward is to escape because if she stays they will kill her – and it will be brutal. She must find a way out of Russia for her, for her family. What follows is a journey that includes an epic love story twisted into real life history and science as Miri risks everything to save the people she loves most.
Visit Rachel Barenbaum's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Bend in the Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue