Had Eloise been Jewish, less precocious, and more Catskills than Manhattan, she might have been a girl like Tania Grossinger. Both had unusual childhoods, growing up as hotel kids, surrounded by adults who were unrelated to them, many of whom were eccentric and famous.
This appealing coming-of-age memoir, written by a member of the Grossinger clan, reveals the behind-the-scenes operation of the famous year-round resort hotel, but it also reveals a girl’s development into a woman while surrounded by much that was fabulous and unusual. Growing Up At Grossinger’s is Tania’s story. It takes place when she is between the ages of eight and her mid-thirties. It reflects a time of profound change in the Jewish resort industry, when social mores and accessible jet travel affected the social and religious ethos of “the mountains.” Tania invites the reader to separate the person from a carefully crafted image for such as Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, and of course Jennie Grossinger, but she also conveys just how special were the qualities of a Jackie Robinson, or of Jan and Alice Peerce, beyond their fame and talents.
This is a balanced portrait of the emergence of an adult, but also of the evolution of an industry. At the book’s end, the adult Tania returns to visit the hotel. She admits to appreciating the experiences she had, yet if given the choice, she confesses that she would be unlikely to inflict such experiences on a child of her own.