But Stewie Blueschwitz will have to do. A somewhat nebbishy twelve year old, Stewie would have been a curious choice to be a novel’s protagonist, were it not for the one unique and hidden ability he discovers. Devoting it at first to his preadolescent fantasies, he comes to realize the potential for greater good. Against all odds, mostly his overbearing yenta of a mother, he aspires to become the first Jewish superhero, “The Mensch,” and, ultimately, to save the world.
The Mensch follows the Blueschwitz family for three generations, divided into separate “books.” We watch Stewart improbably grow up, marry and become a father. The legacy of this “gift” is continued through the subsequent stories of his precocious and resourceful daughter, Skye, and, then, her son James, who finds more interest in his writing than this unnecessary “burden.” As the story takes a twist, it leads to a climax that brings us full circle.
This delightful book is brimming with humor, sometimes heartwarming and oftentimes absurd. Writing is the hero here, including the most unexpected presence of a poem within a parable within a comedy. But humor is found everywhere, from the “Backword” rather than a Foreword (since Jewish people read from right to left), to the book’s in-character “about the author,” to the back cover faux “reviews.” And though the world needs a mensch, a little schtick couldn’t hurt either.
From the first page, you’ll laugh at things you didn’t even know were funny. The ending will bring you to tears and in between you will be taken on a journey seamlessly through the generations of the Blueschwitz family. There are moments a joke will hit you in the face, and you never saw it coming. I loved every moment of this book. The author tells the story masterfully, and the words are often poetry. A great read.
I know LOL is a cliche, and I usually don’t laugh out loud while reading. But I literally couldn’t help it with The Mensch. The story is brilliantly written, and not just funny but touching as well. The humor is universal, it doesn’t require any knowledge of Yiddish, or that you’re a certain religion or age. I’m planning on reading it again, because it’s like the movie “Airplane,” the jokes come fast and you can miss some the first go-round.
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2023
this guy Weber got my story all wrong. First of all, I’m not Jewish, I’m Jew-ish. You heard of that, right? The only really orthodox things I do are eat Chinese food on Christmas and then feel guilty about it. And no, I didn’t have a daughter who I didn’t name “Skylar.” I mean, who in their right mind would name a girl “Skye Blueschwitz?!” In fact, I had a son, and we kept the name that we put on his birth certificate, “Little Boy Blueschwitz.” And I don’t have any super powers. I know that kind of thing sells books, so I forgive you if after reading this you immediately click that “buy now” button way up there on the right. Sure, the book was genius and all, but facts are facts, unless they’re on social media.