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Up from Orchard Street Audiobook

Up from Orchard Street

Three generations of Roths live together in a crowded tenement flat. Long-widowed Manya is the family's head and its heart. But Manya is no soft touch, except, perhaps, where her granddaughter Elka is concerned. Precocious Elka is her closest companion and confidante. Through Elka's eyes we come to know the fascinating characters who move in and out of the Roths' lives.
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Publisher's Summary

Three generations of Roths live together in a crowded tenement flat. Long-widowed Manya is the family's head and its heart. She's renowned throughout the neighborhood for her cooking, and every noontime the front room of the flat turns into Manya's private restaurant. But Manya is no soft touch, except, perhaps, where her granddaughter Elka is concerned. Precocious Elka is her closest companion and confidante. Through Elka's eyes we come to know the fascinating characters who move in and out of the Roths' lives. Money may have been short, but opinions were not, and their tart tongues and lively humor abound. In this riveting story lies the heart of the American immigrant experience: a novel at once wise, funny, poignant, anguishing, exultant, and bursting with love.

©2005 Eleanor Widmer; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Solo Narration (Female)

"Poignant snapshot of a long-lost era and place....[This] first novel offers pungent, nostalgic vignettes of Jewish life on Manhattan's Lower East Side." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (368 )
5 star
 (146)
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4.1 (139 )
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Story
4.2 (137 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sara 08-10-14
    Sara 08-10-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6538
    ratings
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    Performance
    Story
    "Tenement Life From a Child's Point of View"

    As the author states in the afterward of the book-this book is part biography, part fiction and all true. It tells a sweeping story of living in poverty in the tenements of NYC through the eyes of young Elka. The book reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at first. However, I can understand why it isn't on a youth reading list anywhere. This story is peppered with frank talk about sex, infidelity and off-color jokes. Much of this was unnecessary for the story. It is a shame that this content makes it inappropriate for young people because it is an engaging tale filled with growth, insight and change.

    I agree with another reviewer that I would have liked a better time line. I found myself wondering what year it was when the action took place and hoping for an easier tracking of time progression. Instead there were vague mentions of "the war". Having firmer grounding in time would have made the story fit more easily into the world going on around it.

    Lorna Raver, the narrator, did a great job. I really enjoyed her enthusiasm. It was a long book but the listening time flew by and my attention was held effortlessly. Parts of the book are difficult listening, as the poverty, chronic illness, filth and constant struggle are harsh realities. That said, it is a good story and I'm glad I listened.

    25 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 12-30-06
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 12-30-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Another Favorite"

    The list just gets longer and longer of favorite books I have listened to. This one has definitely found a spot on that list.

    Set in NYC with a Jewish immigrant family prior to, through, and after the Depression. We learn about three generations of a wonderful family as they triumph together. The vignettes are amusing, sad, real, and loving.

    I do love ethnic tales because we can always find something in our own background to identify with, regardless of the culture. This is no exception.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn jackson, WY, United States 08-25-11
    Carolyn jackson, WY, United States 08-25-11

    Avid Listener of Audible

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    478
    36
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    Story
    "Engaging Story and Great Narrator"

    This book was highly engaging. I thought I wasn't going to like it, but after about 40 minutes it started to get really good. I loved the characters and the narrator did an awesome job of turning them to life. The best part was that it was based on the author's true life story. Its well worth the time and credit spent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Petersham, MA, United States 01-16-10
    Ellen Petersham, MA, United States 01-16-10 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
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    16
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    4
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    "More than a Memoir"

    I bought this book, started it and then put it aside for more than a year. Why? I guess it started out to be one of those "heartwarming" coming-of-age books and I wasn't in the mood. I came back to it by accident and was drawn in by the horrors and wonders of life in New York's Lower East Side just before WWII. The dialogue is convincing, the narration is wonderful and the emergence of the character of the mother, Lil, is astonishing.
    The author died at the age of 80 just after finishing the final revisions of this book - her first novel. It is a shame that there won't be a second.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol osprey, FL, United States 08-15-09
    Carol osprey, FL, United States 08-15-09 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Life"

    Could not believe it, I still smell the sour pickles,nuts and dried fruits.The urine in the stairwells,my mother would hit the steps to scare the rats & the drunkes.I remeber my mother shoveling coal in some tenaments. Then we would get slippers in the lower eastside for 5 cents put them on the pushcart and sell for 20cents if we could get it. Classified as non-fiction for me. I remeber mom!To Life!

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Green New York, NY USA 01-28-09
    Barbara Green New York, NY USA 01-28-09 Member Since 2014

    readingisgreat

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Made me smile"

    This brought back many memories of days gone by. I enjoyed it. I found myself looking forward to getting in my car so that I could get back to this very close and loving family. Many of her memories are my memories too and many things put a smile on my face.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael orlando, FL, USA 10-20-08
    Michael orlando, FL, USA 10-20-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    16
    5
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    "Loved Every Second"

    That narrator was excellent, accents just like I remembered growing up in NY. I highly recommend this audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    Anne Montgomery Village, MD, United States 02-10-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    197
    ratings
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    143
    23
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    3
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    Overall
    "Delightful"

    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.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MEMcL Carlsbad, CA 04-17-07
    MEMcL Carlsbad, CA 04-17-07 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    219
    ratings
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    52
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    Overall
    "A delightful book"

    This is a charming and heart-warming book. The characters are beautifully portrayed by the reader and her accented dialogue adds to the pleasure of the book. My background is very different from the NYC Jewish culture and yet I could relate so well to the family. I loved the characters and I really hope that there will be a sequel.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 07-09-08
    Angie Kansas City, MO, United States 07-09-08 Member Since 2010

    Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    I love books told from the point of view of a child. They are truly amazing. Like The Secret Lives of Bees and The Book Thief, this book is the world through the eyes of a 6-14 year old growing up in 1930'2 New York in a Jewish Ghetto. It is about family and the strong ties that bind us to those we love, both blood and friends. This is an excellent story and the characters are lovely. The narrator is EXCELLENT. She did the variety of people, ages, accents with ease. I highly recommend this story.

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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