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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Title: Modern Girls
Author: Jennifer S. Brown
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 5, 2016

About the book (from the publisher): An atmospheric new work of historical fiction takes readers into New York City’s 1935 lower East Side Jewish immigrant community, where two women faced with an impossible choice will confront tradition, expectations—and themselves . . .

Set in 1935 against the backdrop of World War II’s ominous approach, MODERN GIRLS follows the interlocking narratives of fierce, industrious nineteen-year-old Dottie Krasinsky, and her mother, Rose.

Though Dottie lives with her traditional Yiddish-speaking parents, she’s as modern as a 1930’s girl can get: she has just been promoted as head bookkeeper at a glittering midtown office, plans to marry her swoon-worthy boyfriend Abe, but still dreams of a home ripped from the pages of Better Homes & Gardens. But after a fight with Abe, and a single careless night with the charismatic but unsuitable Willie, Dottie finds herself in the family way. Desperate, she is unwed, unsure, and running out of options. 

Meanwhile, as news of Jewish persecution in Europe spreads, Rose longs to return to the social activism she embraced as a young woman in Russia. But when she finds herself pregnant with a fifth child, she wrestles with profound disappointment at being forced to once again set aside political work, even as her brother remains trapped in Poland.

As both mother and daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices, they are forced to confront their beliefs, and the changing world around them. What they choose to do next will yield astonishing lessons about what truly lies in each woman’s heart. Only one thing is for sure: neither will ever be the same again.

My thoughts: I had a hard time putting this book down.  In today's age, unwed mothers can be frequently found  in every neighborhood.  Working mother's, especially older mother's are also common.  In the 1930's though, standards were still high and getting pregnant before marriage was enough to bring shame down on the whole family.  Business could be lost, opportunities not granted, and not just for the poor girl in question - but for the entire family.  

We think it was such a simpler time, but they had all the same concerns that we have today (just not all the electronics!).  How to provide for a family; how to deal with consequences of a mistaken one night stand; how to care for a family and have a job. These are all things that are still faced today.  

Dottie and Rose may seem like they are from two different worlds, but they are more alike than they know.  They are both strong, independent women living in a man's world. They both take matters into their own hands to secure an outcome that is acceptable to them.  

I am hoping that there may be another book to come so we can see how their decisions affect their lives and where their paths lead them!



~I received a complimentary e-copy of Modern Girls from Penguin Random House through Net Galley in exchange for my unbiased review.~

2 comments:

Vicki said...

This sounds really good. I'm not a fan of historical fiction, but this is set in NYC which I love, and I love books about relationships between women. So, this is going on my tbr list.

Eva @ All Books Considered said...

Great review, I totally agree re: this one -- it was very well done! I hadn't thought about another book but that would be super interesting especially to see what happens to Dottie

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