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Review: Bess and Frima by Alice Rosenthal

Title: Bess and Frima
Author: Alice Rosenthal
Year Published: 2018

Genre: Adult fiction 
Pages: 291
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (NY)

FTC Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for a fair review as part of a TLC Tour
Summary (from the inside flap of the book): When Bess and Frima--best friends, both nineteen and from the same Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx--get summer jobs in upstate hotels in the Catskills in June 1940, both envision romance, but different kinds. Frima seeks safety in love and finds it with the "boy next door," Bess' older brother Jack; rebellious Bess, meanwhile, renames herself Beth and plunges into a new life with Vinny, an Italian American, formerly Catholic, leftist labor organizer from San Francisco. As the two girls' love lives entangle with world war, personal ambition, religion, family, and politics, they face challenges they never dreamed of--and are forced to grow up faster than anyone expected.


Purchase Links: Amazon
Review: While this book took me a while to get into, in the end I liked it. I think the timing for me wasn't good with my high school reunion smack dab in the middle of reading this; my brain was elsewhere.

My gut says to say that not a lot happens in this book, that it is more about the characters, but then I think that tons does take place. Beth and Frima grow up, meet men, form families, experience World War II, the communist movements, birth and death, and more. But all of these experiences are taken in stride with the relationships taking center stage.

The cultural aspects of the novel are also interesting: what was life like for New York Jews, the working class, and those that felt that socialism was the answer? How did families in the 1940s deal with difference and change? And what was life like for young women who had sex out of marriage? I think I found that most surprising; I always thought women were more reserved then, but these two characters are very modern in these respects.

If you want a character study, then this novel is for you.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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