by Liz Kilstein

How This Debut Is Different

Elisa Albert’s debut story collection, How This Night Is Different (Free Press, $18.00), is peopled with smart, self-aware Jewish women in their 20s and 30s. In the title story, Joanna— unmarried at 31, with a non-Jewish boyfriend to boot—returns to her family for their annual Passover seder. As the preparations build into a frenzy, Albert keenly asks “Wasn’t it a given for adult children to fall immediately back into their preordained roles within the family upon returning home?” Joanna, frozen in time as her family’s child until she produces one to relieve her, expects to be infantilized. She braces herself for the indignity of singing the child’s traditional four questions, for their “bogus traditional wonderment.” Surprisingly, she is more understood than she expected; this night is indeed different.

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