Book Review | Brooklyn Bridge
by Karen Hesse

Score: 3

This exceptional book by Karen Hesse is based on the true story of the family who found their “goldene medina” by creating the original stuffed Teddy Bear. The author weaves Teddy Bears, Coney Island, orphans, ghosts and immigrant life in America into a thoughtful, strange but in the end reassuring coming of age story. Finding Jewish content may be the biggest difficulty, albeit it is an excellent representation of the struggles of Jewish immigrant life at the turn of the twentieth century in Brooklyn, New York. The truth is many Jewish families set aside Jewish observance in their search for “die goldene medina.”   The family dynamics are strong, the characters well developed. However, if a shiva had not taken place when a family member dies, I am not sure I would have known the family was Jewish. Nonetheless, scenes in the book, (e.g. when the protaganist gives his aunt her citizenship test) will bring tears to your eyes. Others, (e.g. the children under the bridge) will keep you guessing until the last page. Leave it to Karen Hesse to take a “simple idea” and carry us along such a complicated and twisted path.

I highly recommend this book for all Jewish libraries.

Grade Level: 5th-8th

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