The Ghost in Apart­ment 2R

  • Review
By – August 31, 2020

If you have ever found your­self in an extend­ed con­ver­sa­tion with an intel­li­gent, intense, pre­teen who is aware of his sur­round­ings, the sort of kid who loves his par­ents but sees them with­out illu­sions, a kid who has close friends, a full but slight­ly com­pli­cat­ed life, and opin­ions and insights into absolute­ly every­thing, then The Ghost in Apart­ment 2R is a must-read. Street-savvy thir­teen-year-old Dan­ny takes read­ers on a whirl­wind trip through his life in a sec­tion of Brook­lyn which has grown into an expen­sive and desir­able neigh­bor­hood that his par­ents could nev­er have afford­ed had they not already been liv­ing there for years. They cope with the eco­nom­ic stress­es of keep­ing up with just about every­body else in the area in slight­ly uncon­ven­tion­al ways that con­tribute addi­tion­al quirky expe­ri­ences to days already filled with a lot going on.

A light Jew­ish sen­si­bil­i­ty per­vades the book. Dan­ny, aid­ed by his best friends Natal­ie and Gus, attempts to track down the seem­ing­ly ghost­ly inhab­i­tant of the recent­ly vacat­ed bed­room of Danny’s broth­er who is off at col­lege. Fam­i­ly life is appeal­ing­ly and whole­some­ly described. Some of Danny’s expla­na­tions of things Jew­ish, although delight­ful and well-writ­ten, car­ry a slight­ly off-kil­ter under­stand­ing of some cus­toms (see­ing a Hasidic Jew­ish fam­i­ly” in a nonkosher café, assum­ing most Ortho­dox Jews speak Yid­dish, a folk­lore-based under­stand­ing of a mezuzah) but the sto­ry is rich and com­pelling, and presents a nuanced and lay­ered feel­ing of neigh­bor­hood warmth and vital­i­ty, as well as show­ing a pic­ture of a close, lov­ing Jew­ish family.

Among oth­er inter­est­ing details, the sto­ry address­es ways in which assort­ed cul­tures view ghosts and the super­nat­ur­al, and it encour­ages the impor­tant, and often neglect­ed, val­ue of prowl­ing through libraries to gar­ner information.

Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer, Helen Weiss Pin­cus, has taught mem­oir writ­ing and cre­ative writ­ing through­out the NY Metro area to senior cit­i­zens and high school stu­dents. Her work has been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Record, The Jew­ish Stan­dard, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She recent­ly added Bub­by” to her job description.

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