If you’re looking for something lovely and heartwarming to read over the holiday, this one might just been a good bet. Plus, we’re giving away a copy! Read through to learn how to win!
In 1934, a rabbi’s son in Prague joins a traveling circus, becomes a magician, and rises to fame under the stage name the Great Zabbatini just as Europe descends into World War II. When Zabbatini is discovered to be a Jew, his battered trunk full of magic tricks becomes his only hope of surviving the concentration camp where he is sent.
Seven decades later in Los Angeles, ten-year-old Max finds a scratched-up LP that captured Zabbatini performing his greatest tricks. But the track in which Zabbatini performs his love spell—the spell Max believes will keep his disintegrating family together—is damaged beyond repair. Desperate for a solution, Max seeks out the now elderly, cynical magician and begs him to perform his magic on his parents. As the two develop an unlikely friendship, Moshe discovers that Max and his family have a surprising connection to the dark, dark days the Great Zabbatini experienced during the war.
Recalling the melancholy humor of Isaac Bashevis Singer and the heartbreaking pathos of the film Life is Beautiful—this outstanding first novel is at once an irreverent yet deeply moving story about a young boy who believes in magic and a disillusioned old man who believes in nothing, as well as a gripping and heartfelt tale about the circle of life.
This book reminded me a lot of A Man Called Ove. It featured a similar relationship between a young person and a curmudgeonly old man, and there were definitely some similar heartwarming moments, funny snippets, and just a really well-done relationship. Of course, there were also some key differences between Bergmann’s The Trick and Backman’s now well-known Ove.
The Trick really was magical. The old man, having been a musician all his life and come of age as a circus performer, is so looked up to by Max, the boy in the story, whose parents are getting divorced. Max is a little too old to believe in magic, but he finds Zabbatini and holds onto that strand of boyish hope that magic can bring his parents back together.
I thought this story was wonderful. It reads quickly and easily, but it pulls you in and makes you smile and have a lot of feelings throughout. There were some rather adult moments that were hilarious, like when Max’s mom finds the 88-year-old Zabbatini in her bathroom smelling her underwear, then hits him over the head with a broom handle and sprays him with Mace.
This book read like both a modern-day story and historical fiction, because it jumps back and forth between the current time with Max, and before/during World War II in Zabbatini’s past. I loved how Bergmann makes the jumping work – he uses Zabbatini’s past to bring to light how he’s acting in the present. The story really was well written and well laid out, so I had no problem getting pulled in.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for something heartwarming, yet not total fluff. I love heartwarming stories that aren’t just all fluff, so this was right up my alley!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me this book in exchange for an unbiased review!
To be entered to win a copy of The Trick, comment below with “This is not a trick – I want to win!” The winner will be chosen randomly on Sunday, December 17. Good luck all!