This book is a fictionalized memoir but reads more like a memoir. The story is narrated by the granddaughter who is very likeable. It is set in early 1900s New York City in the Jewish district. It is about a woman who emigrated from Russia with her husband, who shortly dies shortly after they reach the US. They have one child and she must raise him alone. Instead of growing up and leaving home, he marries and brings his wife to live with his mother in their one bedroom apartment. The couple have two children whom the grandmother lovingly raises, with the beautiful but empty-headed mother's blessing.
The grandmother runs a restaurant in their apartment. If you don't know much about Jewish food, you will when you finish as it is much discussed. It also makes one realize how easy life is now compared to the one this family lived. The family is close and the neighbors all know everyone's business. The story is funny and sad, and very entertaining. I had a hard time putting it down, which is about all I ask of a book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the narrator added to the spell it cast for me. Maybe things are a little sugary, as the one completely hostile reviewer indicated, but I didn't find it terribly unrealistic. The author could have made more of the difficulties in her family's life and of the character flaws in her relatives, but she didn't ignore them. No one is an untarnished angel, except (perhaps) Manya. The environment isn't completely sanitized - racial and ethnic hatreds are certainly there, along with the awfulness of tenement life. These are real people, drawn with a loving hand.
Addicted to Audible!
While this book was no great piece of literature, it was an entertaining, engaging story. My Italian grandmother grew up in the NYC tenements and many of her stories were similar although her family was actually poorer than the one described. I think the child's perspective was a good approach, as many of the harsh realities were downplayed. The Tenement Museum in NYC has apartments decorated as they were in this time period - quite interesting.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As someone who has worked years in the food industry this "up from your boot straps" story described by way of classic home cooking really struck home for me.
Lorna Raver is one of the best narrators in the business. Her talents are well used here.
This ranks as another book I envy anyone experiencing for the first time.
Thoroughly enjoyed listening. Gave a good sense of Jewish life in NYC between WWI and WWII. Gained some insights into relationships among Jewish, Italian, Chinese and Harlem neighborhoods. Appreciated the authors comments at the end and would have liked to have a couple of other questions answered.
I lived this book and the reading was perfect
It ended too soon. In fact that is my only complaint. I feel it glossed over the end as though the writer was tired of the subject. The story, up until the last chapter was wonderful. You care about the whole family, and how they care about each other. It brings to mind a favorite book from my childhood, "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn ". I have to say, I also a great fan of Lorna River. Her voice and accent was one of the great joys of the book. Every character was beautifully done. I recommend it.
There is nothing better than a long book that engages your heart. I was so disappointed when I finished. Human characters with bravery and faults; a family history with joy and heartbreak. Do not pass up this book.
The people in "Up From Orchard Street" do come alive... to a certain extent. Hence, the 4 stars in the "overall" category.
There was a certain amount of color that embellished the characters but somehow, I was always expecting a little more... of course this book is a partially true historical recounting of growing up in early to mid century New York City and the author may have stuck so closely to facts that any fictionalized dramas may have not been the direction Widmer, the author, wished to head. That made for a slightly predictable means of seeing the characters in most situations.
However, the book held my interest and you might find the characters more colorful than I did. Lorna Raver did a great job with the immigrant accents speaking English and also Yiddish.
Finally, in the afterword, I thought Widmer might have her real story. What she says, briefly, happened to her and her family's lives after she became an adult, might actually be more interesting than recounting her memories of childhood.
But overall... I liked the book.
English teacher nerd, love books with character depth and a good plot, and enjoy almost any genre.
The story is pointless and I wasn't really sure of the plot. It dragged on mercilessly for over eight hours. I thought the grandma was hilarious but she really was a foil character and the other people seemed disingenuous and Whitney.
It was rated so high,y and compared to "The Chaperone". This story is a biography that is a complete fabrication of life in New York. It was unbelievable and didn't have any authentic description or detail.
Yes- she read like the story was a boring essay. She tried the accents but even those were mediocre.
None- no feelings at all!,,