The Hat

Babette Hugh­es
  • Review
By – August 31, 2011
Ben Gold has a reg­u­lar morn­ing rou­tine, one that varies slight­ly on this sig­nif­i­cant morn­ing, his last morn­ing. The open­ing chap­ter then tran­si­tions back­ward to the young adult world of Kate Brady, who has just been laid off from her job at a local Cleve­land, Ohio bak­ery in the 1930’s. Dur­ing this time when the econ­o­my is dev­as­tat­ed by the Depres­sion, she feels hope­less, humil­i­at­ed, and con­fined because of her mother’s alco­holic scenes and their pover­ty. When she first meets Ben, she can’t believe he would be attract­ed to her with her dowdy clothes and dys­func­tion­al fam­i­ly life. But Kate soon real­izes Ben is her pass­port out of her dire cir­cum­stances. Mar­riage quick­ly fol­lows a pas­sion­ate yet pure courtship. Faint sus­pi­cions run through Kate’s head but are ignored until a dev­as­tat­ing loss. Ask­ing ques­tions, threat­en­ing to leave because of what she sens­es are lies about some­thing obvi­ous­ly dan­ger­ous and ille­gal, Kate forces the issue. Now she knows too much and begins to form a bond with one of Ben’s busi­ness” part­ners who is assigned to watch her at all times. An attempt to escape from this world, a secret rela­tion­ship, and what fol­lows pro­duces not one but two star­tling events for which the read­er is total­ly unpre­pared. Ben’s father was a devout Jew­ish man whom Ben con­demns, but the remain­der of this nov­el begs the ques­tion of who is to be con­demned. This is a ter­rif­ic sto­ry that chron­i­cles the begin­ning of the Mafia and its rev­e­la­tions that pro­found­ly changed lives forever.
Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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