From Hes­ter Street to Hol­ly­wood: The Life and Work of Anzia Yezierska

Bet­ti­na Berch
  • Review
By – August 24, 2011
This book — part biog­ra­phy, part lit­er­ary analy­sis — is an excel­lent study of the life and work of Anzia Yezier­s­ka. Yezier­s­ka, who emi­grat­ed from Poland to the Unit­ed States at the turn of the 20th cen­tu­ry, led a com­pli­cat­ed and inter­est­ing life. Berch cov­ers the facts in great detail, from mar­i­tal strife to Yezierska’s often stormy rela­tion­ships with col­leagues and friends.

But the strongest fea­ture of From Hes­ter Street To Hol­ly­wood is Berch’s study of the diver­gence between Yezierska’s life and the sub­jects and themes of the author’s lit­er­ary works. This study in con­trasts is what makes Berch’s book a unique and impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to that inter­sec­tion of the fields of his­to­ry, women’s stud­ies, and Jew­ish stud­ies. Indeed, Berch keeps Yezierska’s life sto­ry mov­ing for­ward, yet ground­ed in the writ­ings with which read­ers will be most famil­iar.

From Hes­ter Street To Hol­ly­wood offers a well-researched por­trait of a less­er known Jew­ish author who lived through many impor­tant events in 20th cen­tu­ry his­to­ry. With its breadth and depth, this book will fas­ci­nate any book­worm or his­to­ri­an inter­est­ed in the writ­ing and life expe­ri­ences of Amer­i­can Jew­ish immi­grants, par­tic­u­lar­ly women. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index, notes, timeline.
Rachel Sara Rosen­thal is an envi­ron­men­tal attor­ney in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Orig­i­nal­ly from Greens­boro, North Car­oli­na, she grad­u­at­ed from Duke Uni­ver­si­ty in 2003 and Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law in 2006.

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