The Kingdom of Brooklyn

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The Kingdom of Brooklyn

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this brutally candid, semiautobiographical novel, Gerber again (as in King of the World ) corrosively delineates the heinous abuses inflicted in the name of love, and a victim's ambivalence toward her abuser. Issa grows up in the WW II era in a claustrophobic household consisting of her parents, Grandma and her adored aunt Gilda, who runs a beauty shop upstairs, ``where real life is.'' Issa's gentle father, wreathed in the caramel smoke of his pipe, struggles as an antiques dealer, carting home intriguing junk (and coveted books) to furnish the house. Her piano-playing mother, pampered and stingy, dishes out savage verbal/emotional cruelty: she ignores dying Grandma's plight, mocks the lonely, acne-scarred Gilda, humbles her husband and inflicts Issa with fears of death. Food is a main issue. Her mother harries Issa to eat to the point of nausea; she herself disobeys Jewish dietary laws. Though consuming forbidden foods may provoke thunderbolts of holy retribution, Issa and her friends--Jewish girls ``without a Jewish worry''--gobble ham in a luncheonette. As the family dynamic emerges, Issa hates her baby sister, while her father and Gilda love each other with aching despair. Far from sovereign Brooklyn with its tragedies and ``treasured provinces'' lies the deadly limbo of Florida, to which Issa's mother wants to uproot the family. Yet her mother's verbal power invades Issa's desires, and Issa cannot deny emulating her. Gerber aptly conveys the visceral travail of the child (the grinding gut, the swinging heart). Her wry purity of style packs psychological dynamite. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Gerber, winner of the Pushcart Editor's Book Award for King of the World ( LJ 1/90) and frequent contributor to Redbook magazine, explores the tensions and angers that bind families. The story is told from the perspective of a young girl, Issa, from age three through high school. An astute observer, Issa learns unintended lessons, especially from her self-centered mother. While her mother verges on being a caricature of evil and anger, the strength of this work is in the clarity of Issa's vision. Her thoughts and perceptions reveal the bitterness hovering at the edges of life. With dark humor and compassion, Issa struggles with the need to belong and to be loved. From the descriptions of neighborhood girls to the death of her grandmother, Issa's voice captures the essence of growing up. Recommended for most fiction collections.-- Jan Blodgett, St. Mary's Cty. Records Ctr. & Archives, Leonardtown, Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815606611
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Library of Modern Jewish Literature
  • Pages: 239
  • Product dimensions: 5.57 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2008


    Found this book in a Goodwill Store on Friday night. I could not put it down and ordered three of her books yesterday.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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