Travel from Old Czechoslovakia to Sunny L.A. with the Magical Novel 'The Trick'

Travel from Old Czechoslovakia to Sunny L.A. with the Magical Novel 'The Trick'

Thursday, 2 April, 2020

The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.

This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.


This weekend, let this novel enthrall you with magic and love as it whisks you from old Czechoslovakia to modern Los Angeles with a family of unforgettable characters.

This is the story of two people who never should have found each other, but become friends all the same: a precocious little boy from California and an elderly illusionist from the country that used to be known as Czechoslovakia.

The story begins with a Rabbi before WWII and ends in modern-day Los Angeles. What happens in between is the stuff of magic.

Our heroes are Max Cohn, the just-about 11-year-old who desperately wants to believe that magic spells can work, and the Great Zabbatini, a washed-up performer who needs to be reminded that enchantment still exists in the world.

Max’s life has just taken a direct hit from a bombshell: His parents are getting divorced. When he finds an old LP of the Great Zabbatini performing his most famous tricks, Max is convinced the love spell can save his family. But the most crucial part of the record is scratched.

a street in Los Angeles at sunset
Photo courtesy of Nathan Dumlao

Determined to put his family back together, Max sets out on a lark in L.A. to track down the magician. He finds Zabbatini — now just an ordinary, broken man named Moshe — and enlists his help. As they get to know each other, they realize their connection runs much deeper than magic words and stage theatrics.

This touching adventure story has so many of our favorite things: triumph over tragedy, unlikely friendship, found family, real family, a story that spans decades, and a sprinkling of stardust.

It also delivers searingly emotional flashbacks to World War II and explores the ways that sacrifice and family shape — and save — our lives. Even when it’s breaking your heart, it’s life-affirming and will make you believe in the pure, unstoppable magic of love.

Rifka had to survive without her husband. Which, as it turned out, was remarkably easy. She realized that he really was rather useless around the house. She missed him anyway. Never before in her life had she missed something so useless with so much fervor. — Emanuel Bergmann

The Trick

by Emanuel Bergmann

This historical novel (384 pages) was published in September of 2017 by Simon and Schuster. The book takes you to WWII Czechoslovakia and modern-day L.A.. Melissa read The Trick and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

The Trick: A Novel


Top image courtesy of Everett Collection/Shutterstock.

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