Upper West Side Story

Upper West Side Story

by Susan Pashman

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Overview

Upper West Side Story by Susan Pashman

Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women's History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor's office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York's Upper West Side. Upper West Side Story is the tale of fierce parental love tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Zach and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs. The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina's closest friend, that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well-all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world. Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, a love of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941861035
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Publication date: 05/27/2015
Pages: 282
Sales rank: 122,315
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

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Upper West Side Story 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
JBronder More than 1 year ago
Bettina and Stephen Grosjean have two kids, 13 year old Max and 9 year old Nellie. Both have high pressure jobs that look at the world from almost opposing sides. This has strained their marriage. Max is on a field trip and accidently pushes his best friend, Cyrus down some stairs. Cyrus is rushed to the hospital and initially the event is figured to be an accident by the police. But when Cyrus dies the fact that he is black makes everyone believe this is a racially fueled, intentional incident. Max finds himself in juvenile detention and Bettina and Stephen find themselves fighting for their child. With the current events in our country today this is a great story to go along with them. Max and Cyrus are best friends and this is clearly a horrible accident. But once the media and everyone else learns that Cyrus is black they instantly turn it into a racial issue. I loved how Bettina and Stephen come together to fight this charge. I really liked how both mothers where there for their kids too. This story is well told with a lot of truths in it. The characters are beautifully described and it broke my heart to follow along with Bettina. The story is told from Bettina’s perspective and journal entries from Max. I really liked that even though this is all happening, Bettina still struggles to keep her friendship with Cyrus’ mother. But even better is Stephen, he is wrapped up in the political view of Cyrus’ death. Usually you see politicians folding for the popular vote. I loved how he stuck to his guns, fought for his marriage, and was still there for his son. This is a great story that really fits with present day situations. I think everyone should read this book. I received a copy of Upper West Side Story for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Susan Pashman in her new book, “Upper West Side Story” published by Harvard Square Editions introduces us to Bettina Grosjean. From the back cover: Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor’s office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York’s Upper West Side. Here is the tale of their fierce parental love as it is tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Max and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs, and dies a few days later. The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina’s closest friend–that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well–all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world. Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control. With cries for racial justice rising up all around our country, we must stop and consider how recent headlines are impacting our children, kids raised to believe in an America that is different from the one now showing its face. Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis did it the best in their movie, “The Defiant Ones”. A white man and a black man have racial issues, want to kill each other but need each other to survive and by the end find out they like each other. Susan Pashman has given us something similar except for two escaped convicts this story takes place on the Upper West Side. Bettina Grosjean’s marriage may be falling apart. Her son, white, is involved with the death of his best friend, black, and that is the tension that runs through the book. Will the Upper West Side explode because of this? There is racial unrest, political nastiness and friendship. The story is phenomenal. The themes are perfect and the characters seems to leap off the page. This is one engrossing experience. Well done. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from IRead Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
jmgallen124 More than 1 year ago
This novel promises a yarn about two former student radicals, Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband Stephen, an environmental policymaker in the New York City Mayor’s office, as they deal with various racial and political issues compounded by the fall of a black student down a flight of stairs. In the brief preface, Bettina, the primary narrator for the story, warns not to take the gift of children for granted, and discovers a diary kept by her son Max when he was thirteen, the novel’s action beginning on October 7 at 8:45 pm. In the first main chapter, Bettina mentions that she is a morning person, her son Max is in eighth grade and about to take a class trip to Washington, D.C., and that she’s daughter to Holocaust survivors. The main inciting incident of the novel is the plight by a black student named Cyrus Nightingale down a flight of stairs and consequential coma, believed by the police to be the result of students horsing around. The third chapter is the first time Max narrates the story himself, likely through his diary, when on Monday October 11, 10:20 pm, he’s freaked out by his friend Cyrus, whom he states was named by Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great. The coma victim is taken to the derelict Harlem-Manhattan hospital, and Max ultimately receives blame for his friend’s coma as he was nearby when it occurred. At first, life seems to continue normally for Max and his family, who are nonreligious in spite of Jewish roots. However, thanks to the pressure of an activist named Marcus Hake, Max is eventually sent to a juvenile detention center faced with the charges of causing his friend’s coma, the issue of Max being white and Cyrus being black playing a significant role in the incarceration. Family and friends suspect a conspiracy, with the woven tale for the most part being enjoyable, a nice break from other racial injustice stories where members of minorities are typically the discrimination victims, this issue very much challenging the leftist leanings of the Grosjeans and their friends from college and beyond. There are some minor parts that this reviewer missed and which drove him to go back and reread sessions, although he would highly recommend this tale.
CherylWKrass More than 1 year ago
While the underlying theme of "Upper West Side Story" is urban parenting amidst racial unrest and distrust, the most compelling element is a mother's fight to do anything possible to save her teenage son from unjust imprisonment. It's a story of unexpected friendships and eye-opening views on unconscious racial bias. Wonderfully written!
D_Donovan More than 1 year ago
Upper West Side Story began over Thanksgiving dinner when a relative expressed glee over the prospect of some black 'disadvantaged' children being admitted to his children's school, providing them with an opportunity to better know 'the other side of the tracks'. The author wondered what would happen if the roles were reversed - if his white kids were to enter an all-black school - and thus the nucleus of Upper West Side Story was born.   The title is simply brilliant: it sets the stage through precedent, referring to and building upon a classic story but providing a different twist. The author wondered if society could truly adopt a colorblind vision; and thus was born the novel she presents here, grown solidly on the roots of American social and racial reality.   The premise is simple: a liberal, Upper West Side white family is changed when their son Max's black best friend Cyrus dies in a school field trip accident, affecting not only two families and their close relationship, but sparking a fire in two very different communities. It's hard to find a novel so candid in its portrayals; so hard-hitting in its examples, and so realistic. The dialogues parents and children share over poverty, loss, racial prejudice and observation, are shining examples of what transpires in many an American home to explain the incongruities of not only racial interactions, but the effects of poverty. Crime and punishment, truth and lies, divided communities and divided lives: it's all here, bound together by friendship, loss, and a boy's experiences which lead him to form a bigger goal in life. Upper West Side Story is the kind of novel that reaches out and grabs you with familiarity - and once you begin its journey, you can't quit. It's that compelling.