Turbulent Souls

By Stephen J. Dubner


This was a very good book about a Catholic man who discovers that both his parents were born Jewish and, separately from each other, converted to Catholicism.  The book was a study in generational disfunction within families (calling Dr. Joyce Brothers), as is spanned by three generations of people who broke away from each other for the sake of religion.  The author describes both his parents’ upbringing, their relationships with their parents, and their reasons for conversion.  He describes the fallout from both his parents’ families upon their decision to convert and then describes how he and his brothers and sisters were raised in a very strict Catholic environment.   His parents can best be described as fanatical and readers might not be able to understand how they could have chosen such a life for themselves and their children.  The author does his best, however, to give you a taste of what it was like for his siblings and him.  He also describes how he finds out that he’s really Jewish and the path that he chooses to follow to not only learn more about his Jewish side of the family, but how he increasingly gives up his Catholic beliefs to return to Judaism.  It’s a very interesting book and might also be described as unsettling. The ending may not be best described as “happy” but the author does make peace with his family.