This engaging historical novel starts in 1912. The setting is New York City's Lower East Side. Irving Friedman is a young son of immigrants. Once Irving is old enough to work, the garment industry offers him a chance to learn a trade. But Irving quickly learns of the dangerous conditions of the sweatshops and connects with a group of union organizers. Through the years, Irving and his family deal with hardships and heartbreak. His sister Miriam finds love and when her daughter Michelle is older, she finds herself at odds with her uncle, who has been forced to keep family secrets from her.
Across Seward Park immediately caught my attention as my father was raised on the Lower East Side. When I visited author Gail Lehrman's website to learn more, I saw a section where she included photos of some of the locations referenced in the book. There I saw a photo of 42 Hester Street. Incredible. That was the first location of my uncle's pickle store after he had started selling from a pushcart on the streets. So, I reached out to the author and shared some stories. I was thrilled when she offered to share an advance copy of her book. The author has done an excellent job not only researching the history of the area but creating a family story that made it all feel very authentic. I enjoyed going on Irving's journey, which spanned sixty years. And the personal connection to one of the book's primary locations made reading it all the more special.
Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read her impressive debut novel before its release.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: October 17, 2023.
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