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It's 1944 in New York City. Alan Silverman doesn't want to give up his stickball game for anyone-especially not for crazy-acting Naomi Kirshenbaum. But when he hears about her horrifying experience during the war in France, Alan changes his mind. Slowly, he struggles to befriend her, and one day-miraculously-she begins to trust him. Alan finds she is not only intelligent, but also fun to be with. But the scars...
It's 1944 in New York City. Alan Silverman doesn't want to give up his stickball game for anyone-especially not for crazy-acting Naomi Kirshenbaum. But when he hears about her horrifying experience during the war in France, Alan changes his mind. Slowly, he struggles to befriend her, and one day-miraculously-she begins to trust him. Alan finds she is not only intelligent, but also fun to be with. But the scars of war are still very much with Naomi.
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In New York of the 1940's a boy tries to befriend a girl traumatized by Nazi brutality in France.
Alan Silverman took some tight half-swings with the stickball bat, chewing his wad of gum as if it were tobacco. It was growing too dark to see. Alan watched Joe Condello's right hand; Joe had a trick of pitching suddenly,. without a windup.
Alan needed a hit; he hadn't been able to connect all afternoon. He took a few more swings, the way DiMaggio, did. Then the pitch came down, low and outside.
"Ball! One and one!"
"That was over!" shouted Condello.
"Over the Bronx!" called Shaun Kelly, the captain of Alan's team. "That was so wide you could drive a Mack truck through it."
"How about a decent pitch, Condello, huh?" Alan called, trying to sound like Shaun. But he knew the moment he said it, that he actually sounded like Alan Silverman, with that uncertain huh at the end. That half apology.
"Cars!" someone called.
Passing cars were an automatic time-out. Alan walked over to the curb with the others and let his mind float. It was Yankee Stadium. He had just rounded the bases and was jogging to the dugout, while above him the crowd roared. He had done it! The headlines in the Daily News, the Times, the Mirror, the Post all screamed: Al Silverman breaks Ruth's record! sixty-first and sixty-second home runs in same game! Yankee fans go wild! parade down broadway planned!
But the majestic applause in his ears died as the cars passed, and the towering stadium became his apartment building again. The Oak Terrace Arms. Five stories with neither oaks nor terraces, just hallways and heavy metal apartment doors painted brown to look like oak or hickory or moldy chocolate. The Oak Terrace Armswith its old-fashioned chandelier in the lobby. And Finch, the crankiest superintendent in the U.S.A.
The cars were gone. "Play ball!" Joe Condello shouted. "It's getting dark."
Alan stepped up to the plate again, knocking imaginary dirt from his shoes with the stickball bat. He crouched, the bat held way back. Joe wound up, looked toward first, then hesitated.
"Balk!" someone called.
"Like hell! The game's over, that's what!" Joe shouted. "Called account of darkness. We won!"
"What do you mean!" Shaun Kelly walked over. "We didn't get our licks! You can't win if we don't get our licks!"
"That's just tough, Kelly! When it gets dark, the game's over. That's the rule."
Alan threw the bat to the ground as if he were angry, but inside he was relieved. He hadn't seen that last pitch at all. Joe was being dumb as usual; the darkness was in his favor. But when Joe Condello decided something, that was that.
Alan tried to sound like Shaun again. "Even if you won, so what? We still. beat you the last three games in a row."
"But not by five points, Silverman! We won by five points! Eat 'em for dinner. Point, point, point, point, point! Eat 'em with your herring."
"Hey!" called Shaun. "Get that, Al! He can count to five! I saw a horse who could do that in Barnum and Dailey. Only thing is, the horse could count to six!"
"Shut your freaken mouth, Kelly! You and Silverman! Some pair! You Jew-lover, you!"
Get him for that, Alan thought. Even if you can't beat him. Even if — Don't think! Just get him!
Joe spit on the ground near Alan. Then he turned and walked away, bouncing the ball high with total contempt. As Alan lunged toward Condello, Shaun grabbed Alan's arm and twisted it behind his back and up.
"Let go my arm, Shaun!"
"Shut up," Shaun hissed at him. "Condello can kill you. . . . Hey, Condello! Don't wet your bed! Nighty-night."
"Up yours, freaken Jew-lover!" Joe called, spitting again. Joe kept right on walking. He was heavier than Shaun, but he knew that Shaun Kelly was the fastest, trickiest fighter in the neighborhood. Joe had lost too many fights to him. Lost them before he could use his weight, against Shaun, before he could land a solid punch.
Alan struggled to free himself. "I don't need your help, damn it! Let go, Kelly!"
"You don't need my help, bull! You're crazy! Forget about Condello. Who cares about him. Besides, I gotta eat; I don't have time for fights." Shaun released his grip. Condello was gone.
Alan stepped back from Shaun to turn his anger into distance. "Thanks a lot," he said, rubbing his arm above the elbow.
"You're welcome. No charge."
Alan shook his arm and bent it three or four times the way a batter does when he's been hit in the elbow with a bad pitch. Then he picked up the bat and cracked it angrily on the sidewalk.
"Good shot," said Shaun. "You'll break the bat."
They walked silently toward the lobby of the Oak Terrace Arms. Alan pushed the big iron-grilled lobby door, walkingahead of Shaun. The door's hinges screeched a tune as it opened, and a slower, sadder one as it closed behind them. It sounded like a baby crying, or an angry cat, or a long-tailed demon.
Shaun lived on the second floor; Alan's apartment was on the third. Sometimes they stopped to talk for a minute outside Shaun's door before Alan went up the next flight. They paused in the hallway and shuffled.
"See you in the morning, I guess," said Alan, sullenly. They always walked to junior high together. Alan clicked the stickball bat against the tiled floor of the hallway. There was a slight echo. He clicked faster, trying to overtake the echo.
"Joe Condello can turn you into mashed potatoes," said Shaun. Alan kept clicking the bat. "You're not too smart, you know. Maybe you're good with school stuff, but you don't know when to lay off. . . . So you're Jewish, so what? I'm Catholic. So you're a Catholic-lover, so what? Who cares?"
Alan whispered in the echoing hallway, "Your father cares. He doesn't want me to hang around with you."
Posted April 28, 2012
Definately the best book ive ever read. To fully experience all the different emotions in the book, one has to look inside themselves for a deeper, greater person. Some books dont change people, but some do. This is one of the books that do. I reccommend this book to anyone looking for a beautiful, emotional tale about a simple stickball player and a lovely doll from europe.
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Posted December 27, 2011
Posted August 13, 2002
I have never in my life read a book that changed me emotionaly and metialy until Alan and Naomi its a book about love and strenght and a book about the human will to survie and the human abilty to love and understand This book is a masterpieceWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 15, 2001
I heard about this book from my summer reading list and thought it was excellant. We watched the movie in my school and I would definately recommend that movie to the people who have read the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 29, 2001
Posted January 12, 2000
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Posted June 12, 2011
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