Modern Girls (Paperback)
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….
About the Author
Jennifer S. Brown has published fiction and creative nonfiction in Fiction Southeast, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, The Southeast Review, The Sierra Nevada Review, and the Bellevue Literary Review, among other places. Her essay “The Codeine of Jordan” was selected as a notable essay in The Best American Travel Writing in 2012. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Washington.
Praise for Modern Girls
“Brown deftly sketches the historical context of two Lower East Side women's domestic tribulations, alternating between their stories, reflecting upon the social consequences faced by women in different generations...A clear-eyed view of the sharp, difficult choices facing women on the cusp of equality.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A moving debut, portraying the sacrifices a mother and daughter make in order to save face for their family.”—Booklist
“A thought-provoking story about parents and their children.”—PopSugar
“The novel is not only a nostalgic portrait of an earlier era but a feminist reminder of how limited and circumscribed were women’s opportunities and choices just a few generations ago...Satisfying both emotionally and narratively...Its suspenseful plot and warm emotional tone should appeal to a wide audience.”—New York Journal of Books
“With its compelling storyline, a well-researched historical setting, protagonists who are authentic and strong, and beautifully written prose, Modern Girls is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books of 2016 to date. The story drew me in from the very opening pages, and I was reluctant to let go of the characters once I finished the book. I predict it has a bright future as a book club favorite.”—Historical Novels Review
“Well-researched and thought-provoking...[Readers] will get a deeper understanding of Jewish culture that can be applied to any immigrant background.”—WorkingMother.com
“Brown pens the story of a Jewish immigrant mother and unmarried daughter, both pregnant and neither planning on it, in 1930s New York City. The result is a thought-provoking tale of parents and children and the sacrifices they make for one another. Exploring our dreams and choices and the way they intersect to form our lives, Modern Girls is a heartwarming, haunting and memorable debut.”—Pam Jenoff, international bestselling author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
“Be prepared to lose yourself in a mother-daughter tale unlike any other. With one generation entrenched in the old world and the other struggling to make her way in the new, Brown expertly handles the complex nuances of family secrets guarded along with impossible choices made in the name of love and honor. Original and unique, you’ll find yourself rooting for Dottie and Rose the whole way through.”—Renee Rosen, author of White Collar Girl