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Review: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Blurb from Goodreads:
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….
My Review:
Imagine it's the time immediately preceding the start of World War 2, you're a first generation American Jew and your parents are from the old world, you still have family trying to escape Europe but you're a modern girl, living and working in New York.  You're 19 and you've just been given a promotion at work—you almost feel like you have the world at your fingertips and, then, you find our you're pregnant and it's not your beau's. This is the world we are thrown into in Modern Girls. This book was well written and, honestly, sad but only because it was so easy to imagine being Dottie or Rose. The desperation in this book is not something new for women but it is described so exquisitely that we can't help but feel the pain of both Dottie and Rose. I don't read a lot of historical fiction so I don't have many comparisons to make but I think this was an excellent debut and I will be on the look-out for more by this author.

Modern Girls came out last week on April 5, 2016, you can purchase HERE, and I definitely recommend this to fans of historical fiction. 
My married friends whispered of pain when they gossiped of newlywed life, but I felt none.  Only a longing for more.  No, it wasn't regret at what I had done.  It was regret that it wouldn't—it couldn't—happen again.  That it had never happened.  That I would have to pretend nothing had gone on between me and Willie, that I hadn't felt his smooth hands caress my breasts, that his firmness hadn't slipped inside of me, that I hadn't cried out with such a hunger that I astonished myself.   
I simmered in the afterglow of the experience.  When Abe crept into my thoughts, I didn't feel worry; I felt only desire.  Now that I knew what was coming, I wanted Abe all the more.  This would be just a memory.  A memory that would fade in time until I wouldn't even be sure whether I had simply dreamed it.   
Little did I know.  Little did I know that the memory wouldn't stay where it belonged, wouldn't live happily in the past, but would push its way into my present, forcing decisions I didn't want to make.


  1. Oh,this one sounds so good! I am intrigued bc this is a debut author, but from your review she seems to have hit all the right notes with a really tough topic for women and relationships between mothers and daughters.

  2. I completely agree about the desperation and feeling it to the core. You are spot on, as always.

  3. I am so happy to see a review for this. I have it on my TBR because it sounded awesome and historical is kind of my jam. Great review!!

  4. I love reading books set in this era as it is when my grandparents were young. That being said, this sounds like an interesting yet troubling read as I am sure it is difficult for the girl who finds herself pregnant and unwed.

  5. Oh my! This one sounds like there's never a dull moment with all of those things happening. I hope the book contains some type of mother-daughter relationship to add as well. Great review!

  6. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, too. I haven’t heard about this book before. I’m not in the mood for such read at the moment, but I’ll keep it in mind for later. You quotes made me want to read this book.

  7. Eeeeek! What a terrible situation! I'm wondering what Dottie did in the end. Wonderful review, Eva! :)

  8. I don't read a lot of historical fiction either, but I want to try checking out more! Thanks for your thoughts on this one. I hadn't heard of it before. It sounds quite good.


  9. Wow, this sounds SO good! I got this from First to Read and I am so excited to read it! I love historical fiction in general, and the mother-daughter thing sounds so compelling! Great review!!

  10. I don't tend to read historical fiction but this sounds quite interesting!

    Thank you for sharing :-)

  11. This is the first review I've seen for this one and I'm so happy to see a positive review! I usually enjoy historical fiction and this is one I'm sure I will pick up at some point. I like the fact that this one takes place *before* the start of WW II. It seems that most historical novels that feature Jewish MC's are all told from a WW II setting/perspective. I like that that is not the focus here. Great review, Eva!

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

  12. ooh. This sounds great. I love historical books like this. Thanks for sharing! :)

  13. The one thing I forgot to add in my review is the fact that Dottie's mother, (she was the one who was vocal and wished her daughter not go over to Paris) didn't give more of a reason about why she should not want to go to Paris than what she did. All she did was tell her there is conflict when Hitler was already doing things against the Jewish people right then, during 1935/36. Nothing her mother said would have convinced me not to go as it did not Dottie, either.
    One other thing I wished mother/daughter had together was more of an open relationship, and it was not because of the time that this took place, it was just how they were as people. I feel the book would have benefitted from a closer relationship between these two, and they might have discussed what they had in common.
    This would be a great Book Club book. There leaves a lot to discuss with this book! I should have added that in my review, too, but I forgot this time. I have been trying to add which books would do really well for Book Clubs, so those of you who are in one, this is a great book for one!
    Nice review!


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