Talented and ambitious Minnie Spivak begins as a proofreader at Lev Magazine and slowly climbs her way up the corporate ladder. In the process, she is supporting her husband in kollel — and losing her priorities. In her mind she knows that family comes first, but when the publication pits her against a young and brilliant newcomer for the position of Editor-in-Chief, Minnie is determined to win the contest at any price.
Eliyahu Spivak has been advised by his Rav that it's time to leave kollel and find a teaching position, but almost everyone is a rebbe in Bergenville, and leaving their neighborhood to pursue his teaching dreams isn't an option if it means Minnie would need to leave her job, is it? Besides, if her husband is working, then what is she working to support?
Meanwhile, their daughter Tzila is hooking up with the wrong crowd just when they are desperately trying to get her into a high school, and their daughter Sorale's strange behavior isn't getting better on its own. Minnie and Eliyahu don't agree on how to deal with any of these issues, and when Minnie's parents' marriage begins to unravel, she wonders if her own marriage will follow suit.
Chutes and Ladders — the game resembles Minnie's life. Thrilling successes and throbbing failures, blessings and loss, and the unexpected moments that turn everything inside out...
Chutes & Ladders
Chutes & Ladders : An Excerpt
Minnie Spivak thought back to when working as a proofreader for Lev Magazine was
enough in every sense. It was enough to support her and Eliyahu so that he could learn full time
unhindered. It was demure enough that she could come and go without gathering any
unwanted attention from her female coworkers. She wasn’t looking to step on any of their toes
to get anywhere other than just where she was. She was looking for the simple life and that’s
what she had. It was enough.
When had all that changed?
“Mrs. Spivak there’s a meeting with graphics at two,” her secretary buzzed. She still
marveled that this young twenty-something girl called her Mrs. Spivak. Hadn’t she just been
twenty-something herself? Was thirty-something so different than twenty-something?
“Thank you Estee, I appreciate your reminder.”
She flipped off her intercom. She had a lot of work to do. She wasn’t taking over Mr.
Benjamin’s work yet. She wasn’t an ambulance chaser. But she knew she needed to ease into
things so it wouldn’t completely overwhelm her when she assumed the position of editor-in-
Editor-in- chief. She could laugh. How had she morphed from proofreader to content
editor to contributing editor to managing editor to assistant editor-in- chief
to….possibly…maybe probably…head of the whole operation? She was a mother, a wife, not a
One of the interns dropped a pile of photos on her desk.
“Review for cover graphics please,” she said.
Minnie wished she remembered the girl’s name. Instead she just smiled.
“Thank you, I will.”
Delia Fitter poked her head around her cubicle. “You think you’ll actually get a door on
your office like Mr. Benjamin when you become editor-in- chief?”
Minnie smiled and then put her finger to her lips. “Shhhhhh,” she said.
“I’m just voicing what everyone else is thinking,” Delia said.
“Better to think what everybody else is voicing,” Minnie retorted.
Delia shook her head. “Always an answer for everything my friend.”
Minnie adored Delia. So many people at the office were intimidated by Minnie no
matter how accessible she tried to make herself. Even though Delia worked in the advertising
department her desk had somehow ended up next to Minnie’s. When she was drowning in
work, Delia was her anchor.
Delia poked her head around the divider again.
“Min. Did you hear from Bnos Chaya yet?”
“You know I’m trying to work,” she said.
“Yeah, yeah, tell me about it. My Tzipporah hasn’t eaten in three days she’s so nervous
that she hasn’t heard from Bnos Chaya yet,” Delia said. “They should at least be giving out
interviews now. I don’t know if no news is good news or what. I’m not even going to ask you if
you heard anything because if you did and we didn’t I’m going to have to lock myself in the
bathroom for the rest of the day and cry. Then nobody will be able to get into the bathroom
and they’ll probably call the fire department to get me out and I’ll be fired for causing such an
upheaval. Even the editor-in- chief incumbent won’t be able to help me at that point.”
“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Minnie practically screamed.
“Right. Think what they voice.” Delia tapped her finger against her right temple. “I’m
thinking. But I must warn you, I think very loudly.”