Ari Barak and the Free-Will Paradox

Young Adult - Religious Theme
400 Pages
Reviewed on 10/04/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Ari Barak and the Free-Will Paradox by Shaul Behr is a hilarious story with deep cultural and spiritual underpinnings, following the journey of Ari Barak, a teenager with ADHD and mischievous tendencies, and Howard Segal, an intelligent young man in an unconventional yeshiva. They are about to find out the secrets of Rabbi White, because his yeshiva is nothing similar to anything anyone would expect in a traditional place where young Jewish men go to learn the Torah. These intrepid youngsters are on a quest to unravel the mystery of free-will, and will they?

From the prologue, the reader is absorbed in the story as they follow a rabbi’s encounter with his family on his death bed. The humor is prevalent and it fills every page of this book, enriching the dialogues, and creating an atmosphere that is feisty. The characters feel real and I enjoyed the fact that the author has written the story from true human experience, exploring religious themes and articulating brilliantly on tenets of the Jewish culture. Ari Barak and the Free-Will Paradox is written in a very simple style, with prose that sounds good to the ears. The author weaves traditional Jewish expressions into the narrative — and the footnotes are relevant and informative — and this gives the story a degree of authenticity. Shaul Behr is a good storyteller and he creates characters that young readers and adults will love to encounter — deeply human, real, and sophisticated characters. It is hilarious and utterly engaging.