Joshua: A Brooklyn Tale

Abbott Press  2011

 

Joshua: A Brooklyn Tale traces the lives of three characters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn during turbulent times. Rachel is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, a rabbi who is a disciple of the Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson, leader of the Lubavitch Jews. She is a brilliant, beautiful girl, destined to live her life strictly following her community’s ways, but she yearns for more. Paul was raised in an affluent Long Island suburb in seemingly perfect circumstances, but his parents are cold and detached. He longs for the warmth and attention proffered by his pious bar mitzvah teacher, a Hassidic rabbi from Brooklyn. And Joshua is growing up in crime-infested East New York, with an ambitious mother who works as a maid in the suburbs and moves them upward to Crown Heights, hoping that her son will get an education and become successful. As these three people and their families become intertwined, we read about deep familial love and hopeless romantic love, about desperation and acceptance. We learn about the Lubavitch way of life and the leadership struggle within that community. The author interweaves vivid details of real-life tragic events with fiction to explain the struggle of the Black community. The story’s timeline spans four decades in a neighborhood plagued by racial tensions which have only just begun to ease as opposing communities find ways to better communicate and live together. This is a fine novel about a piece of New York history that is still unfolding.

Discussion Questions

Courtesy of Andrew Kane

  1. Do you think the author portrayed these different communities authentically?

  2. Do you think the author was even handed in dealing with the historical conflicts between these communities?

  3. Did you find the relationships between Joshua, Rachel, and Paul compelling and credible?

  4. How does the author leave you feeling in terms of the future of these two communities, and racism and anti-Semitism in general?




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