About the Novel
Should Pauline Berkovitz shy away from her past to fully embrace this new way of life? Since she has no clarity, getting away for Passover looks like the perfect solution, even if it means packing thirteen people and hoarding frozen briskets into two RVs. But Pauline cannot sweep anxiety under the doormat of her suburban bungalow. Angst slips onto her lap in the form of a package: a mysterious box of matzah with a name but no address. To find the rightful owner, Pauline must hone her inner trust and veer off course, yet she must also deliver her motley convoy to their destination in time for the Passover seder.
Pauline’s journal takes us onboard with the Berkovitz and Shapiro families. As their two RVs belt down the highway toward Destin, Florida, Pauline must placate the demanding and acerbic Mike Shapiro and win over Batya, Mike’s gloomy, withdrawn teenage daughter. Pauline also wants to fully appreciate unabashed Sam, her carefree husband who has attained nirvana 24/7, and Mike’s devout wife Julie, who is having a constant dialogue with G-d. Pursued by piles of laundry and piercing back pain, Pauline meets people en route who help her realize that she too has wisdom to share. Let My RV Go! is an honest, light-hearted and refreshing observation of one woman’s search for meaning—even if it requires turning her life upside down and tearing out the kitchen sink.
Let My RV Go! is published by Mosaica Press.
People have been asking me why I wrote Let my RV Go! I could answer that I get great pleasure from writing, but the answer goes deeper than this.
We live in difficult times. If I focus on the news headlines with its stories of crime, war and scandals, I become dark and negative. I am left feeling threatened, insecure and often hopeless. Many contemporary novels and movies focus on fear, violence, tragedy and perversion. They are often obscene and contain disrespectful characters who use vulgar language and have a disconcerting lack of values.
I wanted to write a book that would uplift people and pull them out of this heaviness. I wanted to make people laugh, to see the humor in life’s small details and recognize the light in the mundane. I also wanted to write a positive, lighthearted book about being Jewish with a fresh, new voice. And I wanted this story to be available to all readers; Jews, both secular and religious, as well as non-Jews. This is why I included a glossary at the end.
I am ba’alat teshuva, becoming observant some fifteen years ago. Turning my life inside out and my kitchen upside down was not easy. It was deeply satisfying and meaningful, but it was often hard work. As I entered the religious world, I became aware that Observant Jews are cautious of the secular world, while secular Jews often misunderstand the Orthodox. We all bring our own perceptions and misconceptions. This results in the creation of two thickly lined ‘boxes’ containing ‘us’ and ‘them.’
Becoming religious, I also became aware of the enormous rift between the two worlds. What does a ba’al teshuvah do? Should he simply break out of his box by forgetting his past and then try to mold himself the new box? Or, should he carve his own space outside of the box? In Let My RV Go!, the character Pauline desperately wants to be just like the Orthodox Jews in her neighborhood, thinking she will be spiritually satisfied if the seamlessly fits in. When she cannot pull it off like her friend Julie has, Pauline feels as if she has failed. On the other hand, the characters Sam and Mike are proud of their differences. In the novel, I wanted to explore this rift in a way that readers on both sides could see each other in an honest and light-hearted way. And hopefully, they would be able to understand each other better.
The book also speaks to the secular world as it explains why non-observant Jews become religious. There are several examples of paths to religious Judaism in the plot, including that of the four main adult characters as well as Yehuda, the football star turned chassid and Reb Schwadron.
On the other hand, the book also gently addresses some of the issues that hurt the religious world, partly because of the carefully delineated box into which Orthodox Jews are often expected to fit. The character Dovid has gone off the derech for this very reason. Both young Sarah and teenage Batya feel confined and, in their own way, question the heavy emphasis their communities exert on external rules, often at the expense of limiting personal expression and spiritual growth.
I also wanted to offer a message that could touch Jews and non-Jews alike. As parents and spouses, we all become stressed and are often ungrateful. Life has its ups and downs, but we must relax, find humor in our lives and appreciate what we have been given. Moreover, we must be on the lookout for life’s special moments; those simple, wondrous times we all wish could be bottled up and remembered forever.
Let My RV Go! is a road trip about self-discovery, faith and growth. We are all on a journey; we have to keep our eyes open and hold on tight. And when the road gets bumpy, we must let ourselves laugh.