Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Tin Horse by Janice Steinberg

Publisher: Random House 
Pages: 352 
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  After years of resistance to the idea, feisty octogenarian Elaine Greenstein finally decides to move from the home in which she raised her family to a retirement community. While she's packing her possessions, she finds a clue to the whereabouts of her twin sister, who disappeared from the little-known Jewish mecca of Boyle Heights on the eve of WWII when the girls were eighteen. Plunging back into memories of her childhood and the momentous historical facts that impacted her family, Elaine recalls her family's stories-those from the Old Country, and tales of immigration travails, and the heartache of being the "smart" one of the twins instead of the "popular" one.

In an utterly unforgettable, salty voice, Elaine revives the memories of growing up with her twin sister Barbara, her parents, her Zayde, her aunts and her younger sisters as the Greensteins bear the disappointments, heartbreaks, and fallout from the immigrant baggage that they have been unable to shed despite settling in southern California-the land of sunshine and opportunity, fig trees and equality.


Kritters Thoughts:  Elaine is a twin and one of four Greenstein sisters living in a Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Los Angeles.  As the story begins, Elaine is packing up her things to move to a retirement community and is recalling stories from the past as she goes through her things.  The reader knows from the beginning that Elaine's twin disappeared, never to hear from again, but the story provides the clues as to why she left her family with no word.

At the heart is this family that is struggling to find their way.  With sibling rivalry, the Depression, and cultural issues, the book was slam packed with history to share; I was able to learn about a whole subset of our United States and the places they called home. A theme that showed up quite often is the belief that even though siblings can grow up in the same home and family, their stories and recall of the shared history will be different.  Elaine's recollection of some of the stories was different than her sisters, either due to the age of each sister or the different relationship they each had with mother and father.  I definitely take this with me and realize that my sister was raised in the same home, but had completely different experiences in the same home than I did.

Not quite historical fiction, but a book that takes you through history and a family that has lived through the years.  Elaine tells her stories with an ease that allows the reader to put the pieces of the family's history together one by one.  It made me wish that my grandmother had a book like this that I could share with the stories of my family and the generations before me.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2013 Challenge: 6 out of 50

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from edelweiss.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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