Albie’s Strug­gle: A Novel

September 1, 2020

Albie Green­berg, born in New York at the start of World War II, wants to be accept­ed as nor­mal. His par­ents, fear­ing post-Holo­caust that their Jew­ish iden­ti­ty could become a death sen­tence, have nev­er once dis­cussed reli­gion in Albie’s pres­ence, and prac­tice none.

For Albie’s tenth sum­mer in 1950, his par­ents send him to reg­i­ment­ed, ath­let­ic Bear Lake Camp hop­ing their dreamy, book­ish son will assim­i­late into the world of oth­er boys. Away from home for the first time, Albie must nav­i­gate the camp cul­ture as unpre­pared for base­ball as he is for scape­goat­ing or a sum­mer polio epidemic.

Will ris­ing con­flict at Bear Lake that ends in dark­ness defeat Albie, or open a path to his future?

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of R.S. Steinberg

  1. What does Albie want? Does he get it?

  2. What does Albie know about being Jewish?

  3. What does Albie think about being Jewish?

  4. What does Albie feel about being Jewish?

  5. How does Albie relate to the Chi­nese man in Part One? To Hugh­ston at Bear Lake?

  6. Does the sum­mer at Bear Lake camp change Albie’s expe­ri­ence or under­stand­ing of his Jewishness?

  7. What does Albie mean by nor­mal?’

  8. How would you char­ac­ter­ize Albie’s rela­tion­ship with Joe? Does their rela­tion­ship express sex­u­al­i­ty or male inti­ma­cy? Does Joe change in the course of the book?

  9. When and how does Albie become a scape­goat? Does he accept that role or resist it?

  10. Does Albie ask adults or oth­er boys for help? Why or why not? From whom does he accept help?

  11. What does Albie learn at Bear Lake Camp?