Monday, May 7, 2018

Alex: Building a Life

Alex: Building a Life
by Alex Singer

A wonderful way to eulogize your son by putting all of his letters, drawings, and journal entries in a book to remember his life.  Welcome to the life of Alex Singer, through his biography Alex - Building a Life: The Story of an American Who Fell Defending Israel, Told in His letters.  Alex’s parents decided that, after he died while serving in the Israeli Army, the best way to share his very “value-centered” life was through a book.  We learn of Alex’s decision to follow his instinct to move to Israel after graduating from Cornell University.  This is a coming-of-age story for this very intelligent and talented artist/writer.  Alex is one of four boys in his family and he grapples with what he believes in and how he should make choices that follow the right path in life.  The book covers a five-year period (age 20 through the day of his 25th birthday, on which he is gunned down – 1982 to 1987), and begins with the “decision” to go to his homeland and defend the Jewish state.  His younger brother had already gone to Israel and joined the armed services.  The early portion of the book captures the deep thinking of Alex, his political viewpoint, his struggles, his relationship woes, and a deep intimacy and love for family.  The Singer family is smart, talented, and has a strong belief in God.  As the book unfolds, we learn of Alex’s other talent (besides writing): he is a gifted artist.  As he travels around the world while making the decision to go to Israel, he draws pictures of places and people with whom he interacts.  Later in the book, there is more focus on his time in Israel joining the Army, learning what it is like for an older male to join the Army (2 to 3 years older than most) while not being a natural-born Jewish person and facing some discrimination as a result.  Alex struggles with wanting “combat action” and the length of time it takes to be promoted to an officer.  The majority of the book are letters he wrote to family and friends while traveling.  It gives a great glimpse into what he cared most about in life.  At age twenty-five, Alex is killed in combat, doing what he always wanted to do: defending the state of Israel.  Finding a person of true conviction today is hard to do.  What admiration for a young man to be so wise and committed to a cause.  I wish Alex was one of my friends.  A special read about a special young man.

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