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Our Names Do Not Appear, by Judy Lev (Labensohn)

Our Names Do Not Appear, by Judy Lev (Labensohn)

Stirring new memoir uncovers the lifelong impact of silenced childhood grief


Release date: May 1, 2023 

ISBN: 978-1-957712-07-9


When childhood grief is silenced, mourning lasts a lifetime.

Veteran author and writing teacher Judy Lev (Labensohn) brings us the touching 70-year-old story about the death of Joey, her baby brother, and its devastating impact on her family history. In a moving memoir that blends fact, fiction, and personal essays, the Pushcart Prize nominee longs for closure, while grappling with sadness and anger.


The process of uncovering family secrets buried for decades launches a journey into imaginative grief-processing, in which Lev crafts alternative scenarios to Joey’s life and death.  Lev  introduces imagination as an integral part of grieving. Our Names Do Not Appear invites readers to witness the complexity of silenced childhood grief that persists and confuses for decades.  


What people are saying about Our Names Do Not Appear:

“Our Names Do Not Appear is a vivid memoir of the heroine’s quest for an understanding of the void left in her life by the infant death of a younger brother. Reaching across the decades, and spanning cultural distances between Cleveland and Jerusalem, her quest leads her in the end to an intimate re-imagining of her own experience of family trauma. A richly moving story of a woman’s growth to insight and compassion.”

  • Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, author of The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious


“Held captive by a familial tragedy she cannot remember, the writer liberates herself through constructing an astonishing narrative. Judy Lev renders her younger brother’s forgotten death in striking prose, engages the fictive imagination in the father’s first-person narrative, and employs an analytic intellect in courageous personal essays. Our Names Do Not Appear is a bold literary tour de force that transcends genre—a searing triumph of postmodernism!”

  • Allen Hoffman, author of the Small Worlds series.


“How do you tell a complex family story of love, loss, secrecy, grief, revelation, and forgiveness? Judy Lev’s answer is through a multiplicity of forms and genres. In this lyrical, imaginative hybrid memoir, she pieces together the story of her baby brother’s brief life, a taboo subject in her family, through letters and documents, the fictionalized version of her father’s experience of Joey’s birth and death and the introspective story of Lev’s quest to reach a deeper understanding of her parents and herself. Our Names Do Not Appear is an engrossing, brilliantly written jewel of a book.”

  • Lisa Knopp, author of The Nature of Home: A Lexicon and Essays


“Our Names Do Not Appear recounts the solving of a personal and deeply troubling family mystery story—part investigation, part imaginative tale. It unfolds as an engrossing, gorgeous, and intimate account of a woman’s life-long passage from childhood innocence through haunting grief to a mature reckoning with self and family, leading us through Jewish tradition, culture, and history to a place of peace and enlightenment—for both the author and the reader. A powerful and moving story, a book that matters.”

  • Philip Gerard, author of Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life


“In a woven trilogy, a triple elegy, part fairy tale, part investigative journalism, Our Names Do Not Appear moves from 1950s Ohio to end-of-century Jerusalem. Lev’s tender alchemy of forgiveness and love is a triumph of the spirit and the imagination.”

  • Marcela Sulak, Co-author of Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres



About the author

Judy Lev (Labensohn) is an award-winning author, writing teacher, and Pushcart Prize nominee. She spent thirty years writing this book. A former Clevelander, Lev has lived in Israel since 1967. This is her first book.


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