Sunday, April 17, 2016

MODERN GIRLS - Jennifer S Brown

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….


MODERN GIRLS is a novel that takes place in New York City in the 1930's. It evokes the struggles faced by a Russian Jewish mother, Rose, and her daughter, Dottie who both find themselves pregnant at the same time. She keeps her pregnancy secret from her daughter. 

Dottie becomes pregnant by a young man named Willie with who she had slept with only once, despite the fact she is engaged to another young man named Abe. When all attempts to arrive at a solution fail, her mother steps in and convinces her to have an abortion. But plans often go awry and for both these women, the answer to their problems arise unexpectantly and is not what they had originally planned. Their plights in the restrictive era in which they live rendered this tale poignant and heart-wrenching.  

The first third of the story is definitely interesting, but a little slow paced. Once the groundwork was laid, however, the plot became engaging and interesting and I was fully immersed, eager to read on to learn what came next. 

The story is based on the Jewish religion and adds a strong flavor to the story. The use of Yiddish words in italics sometimes pulled me from the story to look up their meanings, but added learning and authenticity. A glossary would have been helpful and I hope the publisher has added it to the final sale version of the book. 

Rosie and Dottie portray a profound love for each other, one in which will bind them forever. The ending is only the finale of part 1 of the story. It will obviously be continued with a sequel. I eagerly look forward to it as it will take reader into Europe and the dangers of World War II and the risks Dottie will face. 

Definitely a 5 star read - wonderful Women's Historical Fiction. I recommend it for mothers and daughters and for book clubs. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog,, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit

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