In this appealing autobiography, Rose Cohen looks back on her family's journey from Tsarist Russia to New York City's Lower East Side. Her account of their struggles and of her own coming of age in a complex new world vividly illustrates what was, for some, the American experience. First published in 1918, Cohen's narrative conveys a powerful sense of the aspirations and frustrations of an immigrant Jewish family in an alien culture.
With uncommon frankness, Cohen reports her youthful impressions of daily life in the tenements and of working conditions in garment sweatshops and domestic service. She introduces a large cast, including her co-workers, employers, mentors, family members, and friends. In simple yet moving terms, she recalls how, while confronting setbacks caused by poor health and dilemmas posed by courtship, she finds opportunities to educate herself. She also records the gradual weakening of her family's commitment to religion as they find their way from the shadow of poverty toward the mainstream of American life.