Synopses & Reviews
Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert knows a good spin, but shes the one who winds up reeling when her gorgeous, goyishe boyfriend breaks up with heron Christmas! For a stand-up comedian, youd think he would have better timing. But Aimees not about to let a man who doesnt even have a real job get her down. She dusts herself off and decides to seek companionship with a member of her own tribe. Theres just one problem: all the shiksas are snapping them up!
So when the very cute, Jewish, and gainfully employed Josh Hirsch catches Aimees eye at a kosher wine tasting and mistakes her for a shiksa, whats a girl to do? Hey, her heart was broken, not her head! Unfortunately, the charade goes on longer than Aimee planned, and her life becomes more complicated than a Bergman film. To make matters worse, Josh and Aimee arent exactly on the same page as far as their attitudes toward Judaism go, creating tension in the relationship. But as Aimee begins to discover that her identity isnt as easily traded as a pair of Jimmy Choos, she must decide if having the man of her dreams is worth the price of giving up so much of who she is.
Wry and witty, The Shiksa Syndrome is a by turns laugh-out-loud funny and disarmingly poignant.
"In the winning latest from chick lit ster Graff (Looking for Mr. Goodfrog), Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert, who is Jewish and whose first love, Sam, died during 9/11, has just split with her goy boyfriend Peter McKnight. Desperate for a Jewish husband and children reared in the faith, Aimee, relying on an imagined Jewish male penchant for non-Jewish women (shiksas), loses mega poundage on a 'Depression Diet,' straightens and dyes her dark hair red, pops in green contacts and becomes a Shiksa Barbie. Gentile co-worker Krista Dowd drags the new Aimee to a Jewish mixer, where Krista hooks up with Matt Goldman, a Jewish CPA, and Aimee meets GQ-cute Josh Hirsch, who runs LoveLoaves, a lucrative family business, and who only dates shiksas. For her part, Aimee soon discovers how lies can escalate into self-destruction and self-enlightenment. Graff's prose crackles with winning wit, making her potentially annoying conceit go down like a chocolate-covered macaroon. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
LAURIE GRAFF is the author of the novels You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs and Looking for Mr. Goodfrog. She lives in New York City.
Reading Group Guide
1. What were your expectations of this novel, based on the title and cover? Now that youve read it, were your expectations fulfilled?
2. Which character did you identify with more closely, Aimee or Krista? In your opinion, which one stayed more true to herself? Who was the better friend? Why?
3. Discuss the metaphor of driving. In what ways was Aimees reluctance to learn to drive a reflection of her life in general? And what did it signify when she did get her license?
4. Dating outside your faith is a highly personal decision–have you ever done it? Why do you think Aimee was willing to date Peter in the first place, considering her beliefs?
5. What role did Peter play in Aimees predicament? Did they break up because of her assumptions, or because of his behavior? Discuss his Christmas gift to her, and especially its packaging. How would you have responded?
6. Have you ever pretended to be something or someone youre not in the name of love? How did your results resemble Aimees?
7. What role did Aimees parents play in her decisions? Was she correct in her assumptions about what they really wanted for her? Why was Aimee so set on marrying a Jewish man, when her parents didnt seem to mind either way?
8. Discuss the concept of shiksa as brand, especially Aimees assertion that “Your brand stands for something to your customers. They can relate to who you are because somehow youve created a connection with their soul. And you can control that perception.”(page 48) In her relationship with Josh, how did this work in Aimees favor, and how did it work against her?
9. Throughout the book, characters buy into stereotypes: Josh thinks Aimee will order a cocktail because shes a shiksa; Krista thinks a Jewish man wont ever cheat; and so on. How does it harm them to make these assumptions, and how does it help them navigate life? Does it matter if theyre right or wrong?
10. On page 59, Aimee tells Krista “I dont feel Im doing anything to Josh he doesnt want done.” Does she really believe this? In what ways was she right, and how was she wrong?
11. Re-read the section on page 153 in which Aimee compares herself to Esther. Is her comparison apt? Why?
12. At the Shabbat service, the rabbi says (page 262): “To lie is a fragmentation of the soul. It is fraud. And if you are successful, if you are able to–pull it off–you cheat not only the people you lie to, but yourself. For you are not whole. You are broken.” At what point does Aimee realize she is broken? Why does it take her so long? What does she do about it?
13. What about Josh? How did his treatment of eMay differ from the way he wouldve treated Aimee? Re-read the conversation they have in the Japanese restaurant, starting on page 280. Whose behavior was worse, ultimately?
14. Of all the many lies and betrayals Aimee commits during her shiksa period, in your opinion, which is the worst, and why? How did you feel about Aimee when she did that? Would you have forgiven her, if it were your life?
15. How does pretending to be a shiksa expand Aimees worldview? Her personality? Her life experience? In the end, was it good for her? Would you ever want to try such an experiment?
Do shiksas really have more fun? One nice Jewish girl is about to find out…
Manhattan publicist Aimee Albert knows a good spin, but shes the one reeling when her gorgeous, goyish boyfriend breaks up with her–on Christmas! After a depression diet and a makeover, Aimee dusts herself off and decides to seek companionship with a member of her own tribe. Theres just one problem: all the shiksas are snapping them up.
So when the very cute, Jewish, and successful Josh Hirsch mistakes Aimee for a shiksa at a kosher wine tasting, whats a girl to do? Hey, her heart was broken, not her head! Unfortunately the charade goes on longer than Aimee planned, and her life becomes more complicated than a Bergman film. In the end, Aimee learns that yiddishkeit is in the eye of the beholder, and nothing is more important than being loved for who you are.
“Graffs prose crackles with winning wit.” –Publishers Weekly