In this generational family saga, a Jewish immigrant arrives in America in 1900 only to find that the American Dream is a worthless pursuit without family to share it.
Independent, strong-willed Laura Hershon arrives at Ellis Island where she meets Sol Silberman, another immigrant seeking a new life. Eventually he persuades her to marry him and they have four children in short order. Sol is wildly happy with Laura, but Laura, a sharp businesswoman, isn’t so sure she loves Sol, a kind-hearted man without much ambition. It takes a health crisis for her to realize the true meaning of love.
While the couple have two more children, it’s three of the oldest children—Al, Mac, and Rose—who share the storytelling for the second generation, while Rose’s daughter Cari handles the third.
The book doesn’t break any new ground in this genre, but it’s fun to watch each generation of children push and pull against their parents as they find their own way. Despite the children’s resentment at Laura’s devotion to business, Laura serves as the family touchstone. When eldest son Al must flee the city because of gambling debts, it’s Laura who helps and forgives him. When Rose becomes pregnant and has to marry her Puerto Rican boyfriend, abandoning her Jewish heritage, it’s Laura who must console her devastated husband and hold the family together.
The author gives each chapter a character’s name and year, i.e., “Laura 1925” or “Rose 1929.” The technique is a good one, enabling the story to skip years and zip along.
It’s worth noting that the book has more than its share of punctuation errors, including missing commas and periods and inappropriate capitalizations. But for readers who enjoy stories in which family matters, watching Laura and Sol’s lives unfold from beginning to end will feel as comfortable as slipping into an old pair of shoes.
Also available as an ebook.