Review: Modern Girls

January 27, 2017 1930's Historical Fiction, book review, fiction, NAL 1

  • Written by: Jennifer S. Brown
  • Published by:  NAL, April 5, 2016
  • Length:  384 pages
  • Source:  Received from Get Red PR

I received this book in exchange for sharing photos on social media.  My review is simply because I enjoyed the book and wanted to share.


In 1935, Dottie Krasinsky is the epitome of the modern girl. A bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan, Dottie steals kisses from her steady beau, meets her girlfriends for drinks, and eyes the latest fashions. Yet at heart, she is a dutiful daughter, living with her Yiddish-speaking parents on the Lower East Side. So when, after a single careless night, she finds herself in a family way by a charismatic but unsuitable man, she is desperate: unwed, unsure, and running out of options.

After the birth of five children—and twenty years as a housewife—Dottie’s immigrant mother, Rose, is itching to return to the social activism she embraced as a young woman. With strikes and breadlines at home and National Socialism rising in Europe, there is much more important work to do than cooking and cleaning. So when she realizes that she, too, is pregnant, she struggles to reconcile her longings with her faith.

As mother and daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices, they are forced to confront their beliefs, the changing world, and the fact that their lives will never again be the same….

My Thoughts:

The synopsis of this book is gripping, and almost frightening as we look back 80 years and yet see so much applicable to our current times.  Two women who are easy to fall in love with as a reader, both with so much to give and so much to live for, suddenly stopped by the realities of pregnancy.

Dottie goes off daily to her job, leaving behind her heritage, feeling embarrassed by the Jewish family traditions she still embodies.  She wants to spread her wings, but she also wants to honor her parents.  Rose’s life is difficult. The work of a housewife in her era was time consuming and much more physical than that we think of today.  She is intelligent and wants to give more of her time to the activism she believes in, the causes she knows are worth fighting for. The details and language that Jennifer Brown uses in this book are both beautiful and harsh.  I learned many more yiddish words, something I love because I embrace using a dictionary, and the imagery of life in 1935 was so finely drawn.  This book painted such a picture that it was wonderful to immerse myself in a world I’ve never been in.  When a book does this for me…I couldn’t be happier.

If I’d read this book 10 years ago I  would have found less in common in the world we live in.  I would have seen so many more choices that these women have if they’d lived in my lifetime.  While birth control is still widely available, abortion is becoming a less available option.  Social activism is reaching new heights in light of our current political situation. The Krasinsky family are immigrants and while their right to be here isn’t threatened they feel separate, and they are looking for ways to help others come to the US.  I highly recommend Modern Girls, it’s more than just historical fiction, it’s an intimate look into two women’s lives and how they manage unforeseen crisis, and a mirror of how life hasn’t really changed so much.

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