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BROOKLYN BRIDGE by Karen Hesse Kirkus Star

BROOKLYN BRIDGE

By Karen Hesse (Author) , Chris Sheban (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-37886-8
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

An immigrant family’s tale, Impressionistic glimpses of street children living under the Brooklyn Bridge and vintage newspaper excerpts braid themselves together to form this spellbinding novel. The newly arrived Michtoms (based on fact) are the lucky ones, rising from shopkeepers to successful teddy-bear manufacturers. The travails of their neighbors and extended family, the city’s human flotsam under the bridge and a “Radiant Boy” who is a “death omen ghost” represent the brutal side of the “golden land.” Fourteen-year-old Joe Michtom tells his own story, establishing the story’s central theme of letting go: of old possessions, secrets, mistakes that limit freedom. He is also central to the mystery behind the “Radiant Boy” buried under the bridge, whose “ghost” terrorizes the street children who live there. In this tale of Dickensian contrasts in kindness and cruelty, Brooklyn comes alive with the details of time and place, but it is the shadow of pain and transcendence cast symbolically by the bridge that haunts and compels. Another work of enduring excellence from Hesse. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)