Kirkus Review – March 15, 2004
“A gently amusing debut for the Reformed set follows the financial vicissitudes of a psychic in Great Neck, Long Island, struggling to make her calling respectable among the suburban well-heeled. Miriam Kaminsky married to adoring Queens pharmacist Rory, was instructed by her babushka grandmother, from whom she inherited her psychic gift, never to sell it for geltz. Yet Rory’s business is floundering (he’s being swindled by an employee he won’t fire) and Miriam is flush – if only she’d expand her phone business into a hot new business and appear on TV. The problem is teenaged daughter Cara, a very serious high-school senior who’d had her cap set on Cornell until she fell for the local rich greaser, Lance Surk, who rides a motorcycle and sports a shaved head. Miriam would rather remain anonymous in order to shield Cara from the social opprobrium that accompanies psychics’ work (Cara herself has been disapproving of her mother’s psychic gift ever since she recognized, as a young girl, that she didn’t inherit it.) There isn’t much we can’t predict here, but Miriam is so winningly philanthropic, without an ax to grind or argument to prove, with her unmanageable red hair and dowdy wardrobe, that she proves refreshingly disarming. She can recognize sadness or loneliness by a person’s blue aura, and she regularly summons the spirits of her “healer.” Bubbie, who counsels her when she’s in need or can’t make an essential connection with another person. The tertiary characters, in the form of Miriam’s phone customers – like Vince the mobster – provide corny if always intriguing relief from the action, especially in light of the author’s work as a psychic. What succeeds perhaps best in this light-spirited tale about finding one’s way and sticking to it is the relationship between Rory – tall, devoted and workaholic – and Miriam as they weather marital bitterness and suspicion, but still have sex. With a title like this, you get your money’s worth”
“The mother of teenage Cara, wife of hardworking pharmacist Rory, Miriam Calhoun seems utterly ordinary. Actually, she’s anything but. Not only can she foresee the future (she works from home as a telephone psychic), she also sees ghosts! Unlike her embarrassed daughter, her husband accepts her gifts, but he has always drawn the line when it comes to interfering in family business, causing Miriam to doubt herself. Now, however, money is tight, and Cara, in full teen meltdown, has run away with a sexy “bad boy.” It’s time for Miriam to be a little more proactive. Comic relief comes in the shape of Miriam’s scandalized neighbors and batty phone customers as well as her own self-deprecating voice, but emotions ring surprisingly serious and true. And even the ghosts seem acceptable within the careful construct of Miriam’s daily life. After all, as Miriam muses early on, “the Old Testament was full of visionaries and dreamers like Joseph and Isaiah,” so what’s the big deal?” — Stephanie Zvirin, © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Rochelle Jewel Shapiro reminds us that what we see is rarely what we get…and that what we get is often what we can’t see. You don’t have to be psychic to know how much readers will enuoy tagging along with Miriam.” — Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of MY SISTER’S KEEPER.
“A haunting, heartbreaking, and absolutely hilarious novel about family, love, and finding and claiming your own identity. MIRIAM THE MEDIUM shimmers like a magic crystal, disarms and reveals like a psychic prediction, and introduces all of us lucky, lucky readers to a shining new talent.” — Caroline Leavitt, author of COMING BACK TO ME and GIRLS IN TROUBLE
“Rochelle Jewel Shapiro Miriam has delivered a tale so alternately wry and tenderhearted that I didn’t want it to end! This is a novel that daughters, moms, and grandmas will pass to each other and talk about for days, months, even.” — Jo-ann Mapson, author of the BAD GIRL CREEK series.
“Kaminsky, namesake of this thoroughly delightful novel, had me under her spell from the very first page. Rochelle Shapiro has crafted a tale that is at once charming, heartfelt, and achingly real. I don’t have to be psychic to predict great things for this book, and for its gifted new author ” — Gayle Brandeis, author of THE BOOK OF DEAD BIRDS and winner of the Bellwether Prize.
“Effervescent yet wise, MIRIAM THE MEDIUM plots a course between the pragmatic concerns of a woman’s life—husband, money, daughter, happiness—and the shadowy realm of the dead, populated by Miriam’s beloved, lavender-scented grandmother, her hardworking father, and a host of others. By turns comic, wry, sweet and wistful, here is a story that will satisfy both the natural cravings of the heart and the mysterious longings of the spirit.” — Yona Zeldis McDonnough, author of THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS
“MIRIAM THE MEDIUM is both a tender and honest portrayal of the complex relationships between generations of mothers and daughters—twined together despite pulling taut with the desire for independence—and a rollicking tale of how the spirit world meets the suburbs. A fabulous debut from Rochelle Shapiro.” — Gwendolyn Gross, author of GETTING OUT
“What a wonderful debut for Rochelle Jewel Shapiro. MIRIAM THE MEDIUM is wise, funny, and engaging. I couldn’t put it down.” — Jane Stern, author of AMBULANCE GIRL
“Just when you’d stopped believing there were any heartbreaking and hilarious heroines left to encounter, Miriam the Medium has come along to restore your faith. In this deft and unforgettable fiction, we come to understand an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances, and to see how the story of one psychic in crises can be the tale of any contemporary American wife and mother. Gripping, spare, but also funny, Rochelle Shapiro has written a novel full of surprises, but on in which the depth and the beauty of the domestic and spiritual life is given to us in all of its fullness. Rochelle Shapiro is a welcome new voice in the world of fiction.” — Laura Kasischke, author of THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES
“What a wise, funny debut! Rochelle Jewel Shapiro lets readers in on a secret. What we seek to possess is not the future, but the talent to look into hears. MIRIAM THE MEDIUM is absolutely full of live—I loved reading every minute of it.” — Marcy Hershman, author of SPEAK TO ME: GRIEF, LOVE, AND WHAT ENDURES, and TALES OF THE MASTER RACE
“MIRIAM THE MEDIUM”… chronicles the professional and domestic misadventures of a phone psychic from Long Island. It’s a promising and imaginative premise… Miriam’s psychic phone consultations are diverting, and we’re treated to some loopy misunderstandings along the way. Shapiro is a lively writer, and this is a likable book. — The Washington Post
“MIRIAM THE MEDIUM” is a well-written romp about finding your identity, family, & longing. — reviewed by Rebecca Brown, www.rebeccasreads.com
FROM STORY CIRCLE NETWORK, reviewed by Judith Helburn
FROM COMPULSIVE READER by Donna Denn:
From BOOKLOONS, reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth:
Article and review from THE JEWISH WEEK, by Sandee Brawarsky:
Article from THE GREAT NECK RECORD, by Frankie Espadas
Interview from THE JERUSALEM POST
LINKS TO MORE ONLINE REVIEWS:
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR KAYLEE’S GHOST
Charming, warm and hilariously funny, Shapiro’s book looks at the family ties that bind and sometimes tie us in knots with grace and aplomb. A real-life psychic, she paints an unforgettable picture of a wife and mother who inherited her “bubbie’s” gift. Filled with characters so memorable, you expect them to come to dinner. — Dana Kennedy, MSNBC correspondent and New York Times contributing writer
“A mother’s love–especially when she’s a psychic–can be both a gift and a curse. In her endlessly charming novel, Rochelle Jewel Shapiro reveals how far we’ll go to protect our children, even as we’re watching them leave. Whip-smart, funny, and all-too-relatable, Kaylee’s Ghost will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”
–Jillian Medoff, author of I Couldn’t Love You More and Hunger Point
Heart-stopping, poignant, and wryly comic, Kaylee”s Ghost explores the ties that bind mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and grandchildren, both on earth and in the spirit world with wisdom and grace. I couldn’t put it down!
—Robin Gorman Newman, Founder of Motherhoodlater.com and associate producer of the international play, Motherhood Out Loud.
LEAVITTVILLE ON KAYLEE’S GHOST