Lightning’s Run

Gabriel Good­man
  • Review
By – September 4, 2014

Sev­en­teen-year-old Hiram is trapped between the val­ues of his immi­grant fam­i­ly and the real­i­ty of life in the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry on New York City’s Low­er East Side. When a local bul­ly picks on Hiram and his younger broth­er, steal­ing their wages and beat­ing them up, Hiram decides to defy his par­ents and learns how to fight back. Hiram works in a brick fac­to­ry by day and, at night, takes box­ing lessons from Light­ning, a prize­fight­er and a for­mer slave who soon becomes Hiram’s friend. Hiram’s ded­i­ca­tion to his friend, loy­al­ty to his fam­i­ly and skills as a fight­er are all test­ed as Lightning’s past catch­es up to him. 

This fast-paced, sto­ry will appeal to those who are inter­est­ed in immi­grant his­to­ry or box­ing. While there isn’t much time for char­ac­ter devel­op­ment in this short chap­ter book, read­ers will appre­ci­ate Hiram’s strug­gle between his family’s Jew­ish val­ues of shalom bay­it (“peace in the home”) and want­i­ng to defend him­self on the tough streets of New York. Judaism is clear­ly depict­ed in the book: Shab­bat meals, a friend who longs to become a rab­bi, and the Yid­dishisms sprin­kled through­out the sto­ry. Lightning’s Run is a part of the publisher’s Bareknuck­le Series, each book fea­tur­ing a dif­fer­ent teenage boy learn­ing to fight in 1870s New York City. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 9 – 12.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

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