The story of a family’s start in America.
It breaks Morris Pollen’s heart to leave his young family behind as he makes the long journey to America. But the Russian army had begun collecting new conscripts to be sent to war, so he and his brothers decided it was time to flee. After the long and arduous journey, the industrious Morris quickly settles in a Jersey Shore town and makes a name for himself as a talented and dedicated craftsman. Not only does he design and build well-constructed furniture, toys and other woodwork, but he also starts a business selling the sweet soft drinks that are becoming very popular. After months of hard work, Morris is able to send enough money and the necessary paperwork to secure his wife Hannah’s passage to America. With her help, he expands his sweet drinks enterprise, and they soon save enough cash to send for their children. With the family reunited, years of prosperity follow as the children grow and get involved either with the soft-drink business or with their own endeavors. Their extended family blossoms as well, as more relatives make the journey to America in the years following World War I. Following Morris’s example, they always step in to assist recent arrivals with starting their new lives. The success of the Pollen family allows them to transcend much of the hostility and prejudice they initially encountered as Jewish immigrants. In later years, however, the family experiences hardship and tragedy. This semi-biographical novel relates an altered history of the author’s beloved grandfather and her family. While her extensive research allows her to situate this story within the context of American history in an engaging way, the narrative keeps the reader at a distance. For the most part it merely describes the cycles of birth, childhood, marriage and death, and only gives occasional glimpses of the interior lives of its characters.
A family history, lovingly told.