(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Upon the death of his drunken and abusive father, nine-year-old Micah is taken in by Anna and Felix Abramsky. Determined to leave his Gypsy past behind him, the boy, now known as Mischa, quickly adapts to the comfort of his surroundings. Under the tutelage of Felix, Mischa learns electronic repairwork, and through Anna he comes to appreciate the discipline of ballet.

A natural salesman, the adult Mischa becomes Michael Abramsky, the builder of a financially solid empire of electronics and real estate. Secure and settled with a wife and twins, Michael thinks that he has at last overcome his Gypsy past, but the Rom are not about to let go their ties to this affluent family member. Michael runs on a destiny-enforced treadmill that inevitably brings him to a confrontation with his roots.

As typical as the Gypsy hero may seem to readers of romance, Michael is a compelling character, and two of the women in the novel go beyond genre stereotypes. Anna Abramsky is the survivor of a tragic past filled with dreams. She now teaches ballet, though she had the promise of a successful career until the war precipitated the death of her son and her rape by an officer. Anna, like Michael, comes to grips with the ghosts of her past. Grandmam, too, is exceptionally well drawn; the wise and earthy Gypsy herb woman, the gritty matriarch of the clan, almost mystically aligned with nature.

Many readers will be attracted to this novel by its grounding in Gypsy lore. The abundant details of the Gypsy way of life enhance the story, but many of these details come from the memory of a four-year-old boy. Michael’s flashbacks, which include elaborate descriptions of weddings and funerals, customs and conversations, are simply not believable.