- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books (September 19, 2017)
In 1934, a rabbi’s son in Prague joins a traveling circus, becomes a magician, and rises to fame under the stage name the Great Zabbatini just as Europe descends into World War II. When Zabbatini is discovered to be a Jew, his battered trunk full of magic tricks becomes his only hope of surviving the concentration camp where he is sent.
Seven decades later in Los Angeles, ten-year-old Max finds a scratched-up LP that captured Zabbatini performing his greatest tricks. But the track in which Zabbatini performs his love spell—the spell Max believes will keep his disintegrating family together—is damaged beyond repair. Desperate for a solution, Max seeks out the now elderly, cynical magician and begs him to perform his magic on his parents. As the two develop an unlikely friendship, Moshe discovers that Max and his family have a surprising connection to the dark, dark days the Great Zabbatini experienced during the war.
Recalling the melancholy humor of Isaac Bashevis Singer and the heartbreaking pathos of the film Life is Beautiful—this outstanding first novel is at once an irreverent yet deeply moving story about a young boy who believes in magic and a disillusioned old man who believes in nothing, as well as a gripping and heartfelt tale about the circle of life.
“The Trick is a lyrical, uplifting, and funny story that will tug at all of your heartstrings. A true miracle from the first to the last page.” (Armando Lucas Correa, bestselling author of The German Girl)
“Sweet, funny, magical.” (Kirkus)
“Bergmann’s novel, a pleasing blend of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, puts magic back into everyday life.” (Booklist)
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Moshe Goldenhirsch grew up in Prague in the 1930's. His family was far from perfect and Moshe decides to run away. Moshe comes across a circus run by the Half-Moon Man and is entranced by his magic tricks; he eventually is eventually taken on as an apprentice by the Half-Moon man. Moshe eventually transforms into the Great Zabbatini, a Persian mentalist. However, as the war grows, Zabbatini's facade is broken and he is found out as a Jew. In 2007, Max Cohn is trying to deal with his parent's divorce. As his parents are moving out, Max finds a record of the Great Zabbatini's performance and one of his tricks is a spell for eternal love. The record happens to be scratched on the eternal love spell sending Max on an adventure to find the real Zabbatini and ask him to perform his spell.
This dual time story was an emotional journey that ranged from sorrowful to sweet. The writing flowed seamlessly as the alternating time lines switched between Moshe and Max. Moshe's story drew me in with the complexity of family issues and his desire to find escape within the magic of the circus. I was further impressed with Moshe's transformation to Zabbatini and his path to becomming a mentalist. The suspense grew as Zabbatini interacted with officials from the Nazi party. Seeing some of the mentalist tricks in action was very intriguing. Max's character evoked a lot of sympathy as his parents went through the trials of divorce and Max clung to the hope of a magic spell. When Max did fine Zabbatini, the tone of the story changed as both characters found hope in one another. The relationship they formed was similar to grandparent and grandchild and exactly what the other needed at the time. I loved the eternal love spell that Zabbatini performed as well as the unlikely connection that he found. Overall, an emotional story that incorporates history, magic and hope.
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.