Although National Jewish Book Month ends on Wednesday, a Sharon mother and daughter team has celebrated a special novel for Jewish girls since June.
Evelyn Krieger’s first novel, “One Is Not A Lonely Number,” has a twist beyond the plot: her 19-year-old daughter Leah Caras (Larson) published it in June under her YM Books imprint. Larson’s Yaldah Media Inc. also publishes Yaldah: A magazine for Jewish girls, by Jewish girls, and runs a retreat and a new girls club.
Larson says her mother was “always trying to finish a novel,” so “it was just kind of a natural thing for me to ask, ‘Would you like to be the one to write our first novel?'”
“I had always read her writing. She always asked me to give her critiques,” Larson says.
“This is a goal my mother has had since before I was born, to publish a novel. It’s really meaningful to me that I was able to help her achieve that,” Larson says.
A $100,000 Wells Fargo Bank grant in December 2008 facilitated that.
The grant was the grand prize in the bank’s “Someday Stories” contest.
Krieger won it on her daughter’s behalf because Larson was too young to enter, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Larson said she’s been publishing Yaldah magazine for six years, and “it was always in the back of my mind that one day, we would expand to books.”
Krieger has won several awards for her essays and stories, but “I never really write anything for kids.”
“I come from a family of storytellers,” she says.
“One Is Not A Lonely Number” is narrated by a modern, 13-year-old Jewish girl named Talia, who happens to be an only child, which is “not as common, usually not by choice, in the Orthodox community,” Krieger says.
Talie has “a gift for numbers. She sees them in terms of colors and shapes,” and she’s also “struggling with being an only child,” Krieger says.
Talia’s affluent parents, who “open their home to guests every week,” welcome a 23-year-old ballet dancer named Gabrielle, Krieger explains.
“Gabrielle turns her life upside down. She stays for a while,” Krieger says.
The book seeks to have broad appeal to ages 10 and up, she says.
“Somebody who wasn’t Jewish would learn about Jewish practices but not in a preaching way,” Krieger says.
In developing the book, Krieger and Larson had a professional relationship as well as a mother-daughter one.
Krieger says Larson drew up a contract and paid her an advance from her Wells Fargo grant.
“We’ve always had a very close relationship,” says Krieger, who is Yaldah’s business manager.
“She made some suggestions I didn’t always agree with, so we talked it over.”
Larson says the two have discussed doing another project together, but “I’ll let her take that wherever it goes.”
“If another idea comes up …,” she says.