All I Love and Know by Judith Frank begins simply enough. When Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law, Joel and Ilana, are killed in an explosion in Jerusalem, Daniel and his partner Matt fly to Israel. Matt passes the time listing the many thoughts he’d been having of which he was ashamed, including: "Will he ever get to just be a normal, young, shallow queen again, or would tragedy dog him for the rest of his born days?" Then:Read about another book on the list.But Matt knew these questions were bullshit, that he was evading the real issue: If Joel and Ilana had really done what they said they were going to do, he and Daniel would be returning home with their kids, and the life he knew would open up into dark seas he couldn’t even begin to chart.Will the Israeli court give the two young orphaned children, as instructed in the will, to the gay couple, or to their Israeli grandparents or to Daniel’s parents who want them very much? Author Judith Frank does a masterful job of letting readers feel what the protagonists feel. Relationships are strained all around as the would-be fathers try to mesh their former dreams with this new kind of family life.
It all rings true, from the deeply psychological personal struggles and the ways children mourn, to the question of how to feel and respond to the terrorist act. This issue-packed novel repeatedly moved me.
The Page 69 Test: All I Love and Know.