The author of The Jew Store (1998), which vividly described growing up in a small Tennessee town where her relatives were the only Jews, just as memorably recalls her peripatetic life as a war bride.
Suberman begins her story in 1939, the year recent high-school grad Stella met husband-to-be Jack at a Miami Beach park. Stella and her family were now living in Miami; her father had bought a drugstore, and she was adjusting to a larger Jewish presence. Many locals resented that presence; hotels had signs barring Jewish guests, and the country clubs blackballed Jewish applicants. Though her father was not religious, her mother was observant, and after Stella met Jack, who was also Jewish, she began to be more aware of her heritage. Her encounters with anti-Semitism led her, with Jack's encouragement, to question her attitude toward blacks, which had been conventionally southern and paternalistic. Suberman’s recollections of confronting prejudice, her own and others’, gives this consistently thoughtful work an extra intellectual heft. Stella began dating Jack and started college, but when he enlisted with the Air Corps after Pearl Harbor she married him and, like so many young women of that era, followed him to live in a mix of accommodations as they moved to training camps around the country. The author vividly recalls not only the friendships she made, but also the times she lived through: rationing, patriotism, reactions to the war news. After their son Rick was born in 1943, Jack was sent to the Pacific, and Stella went back to Miami to wait with her family for her husband. (Sixty years later, they’re still married.) Suberman’s engaging memoir of those years is, at once, a touching romance, sharp social history, and a subtle diary of intellectual discovery.
A remarkable story that resonates with intelligence and insight.