by Allegra Goodman
In Paradise Park Allegra Goodman introduces one of the most endearing, exasperating, and indomitable heroines in modern literature: Sharon Spiegelman. Abandoned by her Israeli folk-dancing partner, Gary, in a Honolulu hotel room, Sharon realizes she could return to Boston – and her estranged family – or listen to that little voice inside herself. The voice asks: ‘How come Gary got to pursue his causes, while all I got to pursue was him?’ Thus with an open heart, a soul on fire, and her meager possessions (a guitar, two Indian gauze skirts, a macrame bikini, and her grandfather’s silver watch), Sharon begins her own spiritual quest: living with the red-footed boobies, embracing the Edenic rain forests of Molokai, seeking enlightenment (with and without men) at the Greater Love Salvation Church, the Consciousness Meditation Center, a couples workshop in Waikiki, the Torah-Or Institute in Jerusalem, and in Professor Fiedell’s University of Hawaii course on world religions. Ever the optimist, Sharon is sure that each time she has struck it rich – ‘spiritually speaking’-until she comes up empty. Then in a karmic convergence of events, Sharon starts on the path home to Judaism. Still, even as she embraces her tradition, Sharon’s irrepressible self tugs at her sleep, especially when she meets Mikhail, falls truly in love at last, and discovers what even she could not imagine – her destiny.(360 Pages)
Publisher: Doubleday, 2002
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