A Castle in Brooklyn

Little A. Jan. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781662508745. $24.95. F
In Poland in 1944, Jacob Stein and Zalman Mendelson meet as young boys hiding from the Nazis in the barn of a peasant who’s willing to take this risk. When the Nazis arrive, they flee to the woods. The boys survive and manage to come to the United States. Jacob settles in New York and marries Esther, a young woman whom he met in his ESL class. Zalman goes to Minnesota and becomes a farmer. The two do not see each other for several years. Then Jacob invites Zalman to New York. He decides to stay, and together they build a house in Brooklyn to live as family. Then an unexpected tragedy and the ensuing grief bring about betrayals and revelations that destroy the bond between Jacob and Zalman. This is a story about immigration, adaptation to new cultures, and, for Esther, a chance to grapple with the traditional roles that women play. The house itself is an important part of the story.
VERDICT Wachtell’s (This I Know) latest is a good historical novel about Jewish immigrants; a solid choice for book clubs.
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