You Can(‘t) Have It All

 Struggling between Family and Career, the Jewish Way

A few weeks before giving birth, a young woman turns up for a Statistics exam at Milan University, raising eyebrows among students and professors. Her name is Deb Recanati, she is now pregnant of her fourth child and despite marrying at 19 – against her mother’s wishes – she has no intention of giving up on her degree, or on her career. Stubborn and not ready to have a low profile, she graduates by the time her fourth child is born.

Deb is an Orthodox Jewish girl in Italy, who falls deeply in love with the first young man she knows through a shidduch (arranged marriage circuit). According to the standards of her society, she should choose between raising a family and pursuing a career. But she doesn’t want to choose. She wants both.

Finding work, though, is an uphill struggle. Nobody wants to employ a mother of four, as she finds out after having been rejected for many times, when finally she lies about it, pretending to be family free. And coming first among thirty candidates for a job.

Finally she starts working as a researcher and assistant professor at a prestigious college, but her offspring again stands between her and career.

pp. 334

Starting from the title, the first novel of Gheula CN denounces his complex and delicate mission: to be able to maintain a healthy balance in an iron arm with an elevation between the world and the self. A self that is woman, student and observant Jew in Milan. Willing to cross a road traced by intergenerational forces, often universal. The novel illustrates the perennial dilemma of knowing how to maintain a balance between professional ambitions and personal, even on days when it is not easy to recognize the border which separates them. A path of inner conflict, intimate and, for this reason, easy to read and comforting…An authentic, almost candid voice


It ‘s a book that is read in one breath, that taught me a lot, first ofall respect for the woman who wrote it and who shares with us her life hard to live on one hand, but rich, very rich in emotions ….

D di Repubblica

Rights sold: Italy [Mondadori]

English Translation Sample Download

Genre: Fiction, Literary