The stories of Faye Moskowitz have observed a particular terrain of American life: the world of the second-generation American Jew. Displaced and often confused, growing up in families still clinging to the traditions of the old country, these poignant tales feature protagonists still actually speaking Yiddish, mameh loshen, the mother tongue. We listen to them as would a child, sitting there quietly in the kitchen of a small Midwestern town overhearing a room full of women gossiping about their husbands, their work, the uncomfortable space they inhabit between a threatened culture and a modern world; between a generation that came from the old country speaking nothing but Yiddish and a new generation eager to be assimilated, desperate to “fit in,” and seeing with brutal clarity the small lies, petty evasions, and daily justifications that make their trapped, often barren lives bearable.
Moskowitz weaves her tales of interconnected families into a series of connected stories, of her parents, their extended families, their neighbors and landsleit, and finally of her own coming of age in America. The portraits and the people are not always admirable, certainly not Talmudic, but through the eye and the ears of this master, they all give us lessons in the sweetness and pain of this first generation to assimilate. Like her other books, this is, an achingly painful and funny collection about growing up female, Jewish, and smart.
BOOK GROUP RESOURCES
- Learn about Faye Moskowitz.
- Read an interview with Faye Moskowitz from 2007.
- Also read an article about Faye Moskowitz from the Student Newspaper at George Washington University.