Engaging episodes, not beyond the ken of the current generation and lit with just enough sentiment to give them a warm glow.

MARSHFIELD MEMORIES

MORE STORIES ABOUT GROWING UP

A second set of childhood memories from the author of Marshfield Dreams (2005)—these spun around the feeling of being an “in-betweener” in his family as eldest of eight (later nine) siblings.

Fletcher opens with an elaborate neighborhood map (“Marshfield was my Middle-earth,” he writes) and goes on in short chapters to recall the pleasures—and sometimes tribulations—of being a Boy Scout, playing marbles, joining a muddy scramble to gather a bucket full of frogs, having the house to himself for a day, getting a pocket transistor radio, and like treasured moments around age 10. Other memories, such as learning that a Sunday school acquaintance who shared his love for chocolate Necco Wafers had died and seeing his school bus driver Ruben Gonsalves silently watch his son get slapped (wondering since if the 1964 incident would have even happened in his “white town…but for the color of their skin”), spark more complex responses. In an epilogue he tallies other less halcyon memories, capped by the later death of a brother covered in greater detail in the previous volume. Still, like the mock funeral his friends gave him when he and his family moved away from Marshfield, readers will find these reminiscences “sad, funny, a little weird, and very sweet.”

Engaging episodes, not beyond the ken of the current generation and lit with just enough sentiment to give them a warm glow. (Memoir. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62779-524-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Destined for synagogue and Hebrew school libraries but unlikely to compel young readers.

RBG'S BRAVE & BRILLIANT WOMEN

33 JEWISH WOMEN TO INSPIRE EVERYONE

Short biographies of Jewish women and girls, selected by the author and the late Justice Ginsburg, who also penned the introduction.

Each narrative is about three to five pages long and is preceded by an attractive, stylized, full-color illustration of the subject. Six figures are biblical, one is from the ancient world, and the rest lived during the last 600 years. Their achievements vary: Several are activists or labor organizers, one is an astronaut, some are politicians, others are artists, and one is a Holocaust victim. The prose is serviceable, while the breadth of the brief collection necessitates biographies so shallow that nearly every recorded incident can be found in Wikipedia. The selection contains little diversity; of the post-ancient subjects, all but the three Sephardic subjects are Ashkenazi, and all are White according to contemporary understanding. Though text boxes following each biography indicate their relevance to the modern world, most contain platitudes, and one appropriates for its subject—Yocheved, the mother of Moses, whose sexuality is unknown—a modern tradition aimed at incorporating queer Jews into Jewish ritual. The one truly compelling aspect of this collection is the context offered for why Ginsburg found inspiration in the stories of these women and girls, which provides insight into both the late justice herself and the changing times she lived through.

Destined for synagogue and Hebrew school libraries but unlikely to compel young readers. (Biography. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37718-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Interesting anecdotes mitigate the missed opportunities in this history.

THE SHELTER AND THE FENCE

WHEN 982 HOLOCAUST REFUGEES FOUND SAFE HAVEN IN AMERICA

Primary sources enliven this history of the New York state refugee camp that housed nearly 1,000 people displaced by the Nazis.

In 1944, a U.S. Navy ship brings 982 displaced people from Italy to New York’s Fort Ontario in Oswego. The vast majority—874—are Jews, the rest are Christians, and all are refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. They’re the beneficiaries of a far too limited American program to help some victims of horrific persecution. Augmented by photographs and drawing on first-person accounts and government records, this is a history of European refugees, many of whom are death-camp survivors, who exist in a middle ground between immigrant and prisoner. They’ve signed agreements acknowledging that they’re “guests” who aren’t allowed to work and who’ll be returned to Europe at the war’s end. But it’s still upsetting that they’re confined in the camp. In creating the camp, the War Relocation Authority drew on its expertise in running the Japanese concentration camps (called “internment camps” in the text) in the U.S.; after pointing this out, the history doesn’t ask any of the uncomfortable questions thus raised. The judgment of the government’s treatment of the White (by American standards, if not by German) refugees is mostly positive. A brief introduction to nativism and “America First” policies yields to praise of the friendships between New Yorkers and the refugees. Quoted primary sources aren’t always well-contextualized in the text.

Interesting anecdotes mitigate the missed opportunities in this history. (epilogue, timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64160-383-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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