A dazzling debut novel set in New York City’s Jewish immigrant community in 1935…
How was it that out of all the girls in the office, I was the one to find myself in this situation? This didn’t happen to nice Jewish girls.
In 1935, Dottie Krasinsky is the epitome of the modern girl. A bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan, Dottie steals kisses from her steady beau, meets her girlfriends for drinks, and eyes the latest fashions. Yet at heart, she is a dutiful daughter, living with her Yiddish-speaking parents on the Lower East Side. So when, after a single careless night, she finds herself in a family way by a charismatic but unsuitable man, she is desperate: unwed, unsure, and running out of options.
After the birth of five children—and twenty years as a housewife—Dottie’s immigrant mother, Rose, is itching to return to the social activism she embraced as a young woman. With strikes and breadlines at home and National Socialism rising in Europe, there is much more important work to do than cooking and cleaning. So when she realizes that she, too, is pregnant, she struggles to reconcile her longings with her faith.
As mother and daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices, they are forced to confront their beliefs, the changing world, and the fact that their lives will never again be the same….
Jennifer S. Brown considers herself a Floridian, having moved to Miami as a three-year-old and spending the majority of her formative years in Miami Beach. But then again, she’ll also identify as a New Yorker after earning a BFA in filmmaking from New York University and sticking around the City to work in publishing and—for a very brief stint—at a talent agency (and to be technical about it, she was born in New York City). Her passion for Seattle developed when she earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington and then settled into a job as an editor at, what was then billed as, “that little online bookstore,” aka Amazon.com. She now lives and writes in the suburbs of Boston.
Her fiction, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, and she was the winner of the 2005 World’s Best Short-Short Story Contest (judged by Robert Olen Butler) in the Southeast Review. Her creative nonfiction piece, “The Codeine of Jordan,” published in the Bellevue Literary Review, was selected as a notable essay in 2012’s The Best American Travel Writing and included in volume 9 of The Best Women’s Travel Writing.
Her first novel, Modern Girls, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war.
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