PAYMENT IN FULL by Henry Denker


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The relentlessly uplifting Denker (A Gift of Life, The Retreat, The Choice, et multissima alia) pleads for racial understanding in a rather long (454-page) heartwarmer about a couple of Jewish immigrants who raise a black orphan girl. David and Rebecca Rosen, who were born in the same Polish town but didn't meet each other until they came to New York, are near despair after four miscarriages that have left Rebecca sterile. The hatter and housewife have no hope for the future. But the Rosens' kindly, housecalling physician, Dr. Pomerantz, sends dangerously depressed Rebecca to do volunteer work at a neighborhood orphanage--where she takes under her wing the only black child, eight-year-old Elvira Hitchins, whose widowed mother has been shipped off to the TB sanatorium. But, alas, Elvira's mother is too far gone to save, and the Rosens become Aunt Rebecca and Uncle David to the bright little orphan and see her through the unenlightened and racist 1930's, sending her to the best public schools, steeping her in the most heartwarming aspects of Judaic and African-American cultures. Little Elvira learns Hebrew and goes to a Baptist church; Aunt Rebecca learns to cook soul food; Uncle David learns to eat cornbread; everybody eats lots of chicken. Uncle David makes lots of money from lots of hats; Aunt Rebecca does lots of volunteer work; and Elvira does all of her homework and goes to Hunter with a Regents' scholarship. There is romance, tragedy, and the Second World War. No sex. No violence. Plenty hankies.
Pub Date: March 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0688104509
Page count: 468pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1991


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