How to Find Your Way in the Dark

In this sweeping prequel to his Dagger Award-winning Norwegian by Night, Derek B. Miller traces the momentous arc of Sheldon Horowitz's young life in the 1930s and '40s as he pursues revenge for his father's death.

Orphaned after his father's murder, Sheldon is living in Hartford, Conn., with his cousins Abe and Mirabelle, whose mother died in the same fire as Sheldon's mother, one year earlier. As Sheldon tracks down his father's murderer, his fierce cousins support him. "If his death was as equally meaningless as Mom's," Mirabelle says, "I'm going to scream and never stop." Abe agrees: "Jews wait too long to throw a punch.... We're getting squeezed. And I'm not going to stand around." Eventually, Abe enters World War II, preferring "to die for one's actions rather than inactions"; Sheldon moves in with Lenny Bernstein, an up-and-coming comedian whose "too Jewish" material condemns antisemitism. Meanwhile, Mirabelle combats sexism in "fabulous and dangerous" ways, knowing that "being a Jewish woman is tougher." With everyone around him pushing back against wrongs, Sheldon must decide what real justice means.

How to Find Your Way in the Dark is a powerful exploration of right and wrong. Through a jewel heist, fraudulently becoming a bellhop and plotting against a mob boss, Sheldon evaluates his loved ones' different expressions of bravery, demonstrating how the person one plans to be isn't always the person one must be. This historical coming-of-age crime novel is filled with heart and heartbreak, timely discussions of immigrant life, fun era-marking pop culture references and thoughtful characters who refuse to stay silent. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

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