Review: My Left Skate

My Left Skate: The Extraordinary Story of Eliezer Sherbatov

by Anna Rosner

Yellow Dog Press (imprint of Great Plains Publications), 2022

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Eva Weiss

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The life story of Eliezer Sherbatov, the courageous and tenacious hockey player is told in the first person, although it is written by educator and author Anna Rosner. Rosner conducted extensive interviews with the protagonist and the narrative is straightforward, authentic, and compelling. It is not an overstatement to brand Eliezer's story (he is now 31 years old) as "extraordinary." He overcame a freak accident that left him with a permanent disability, yet he pursued a career as a hockey player, encouraged by his mother, a professional skating coach, and supported by his family. He was born in Israel, the son of a family with Russian roots. On the first page, Eliezer shares, “My mother’s grandfather, a proud man, had been imprisoned for ten years for his 'Semitic ways,' meaning his only crime was practicing his religion." The Sherbatovs escaped the brutal Soviet regime to find haven in Israel, although the family moved to Canada in their quest for a better life. Eliezer's athletic career led him to roles in teams across the globe, yet in each country he was viewed as an outsider because of his multiple cultural identities. His life’s most recent chapter reveals his harrowing escape from Ukraine, at the eleventh hour, when hostilities erupted there. He returned to Canada, his adoptive country, and he remains captain of Israel's National Men's Hockey Team. For all the obvious reasons, this biography will appeal to young adult (and adult) readers beyond the realm of hockey and sports biography fans.
My Left Skate chronicles a young athlete's life that is in equal parts a story of fierce loyalty to Jewish heritage, allegiance to Israel, and an immigration journey that reflects the experiences of twenty-first century Jews who fled the Soviet Union and navigate multiple identities. It is a complex story and it reveals the protagonist's very personal ethos. It offers a candid and gripping tale and also sheds light on a contemporary historic panorama and aspects of Jewish identity well worth exploring. 

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Reviewer Eva Weiss is a writer, editor, and translator. She was born in New York City and worked in the publishing industry there before making her home in Israel many years ago. She writes cultural and human interest stories and is the author of the children's book
I Am Israeli (Mitchell-Lane, 2016).