These Days Are Ours

Grand Central Publishing  2012

 

Just months after 9/11, New York is still reeling and on the brink of uncertainty. Hailey is a 22-year old Boston University graduate who has returned home to the Fifth Avenue penthouse in which she was raised, but for Hailey it’s true that you can never really go home.

Raised on the Upper East Side in a secular Jewish household, Hailey now wishes she could be part of another family’s Passover Seder. Hailey has a mother she longs to be closer to, a father who can’t seem to process their divorce, and a brother in Miami with whom she’s lost touch. Living in the newly remodeled condo now shared by her mother and stepfather, both Condé Nast executives, Hailey is insistent on not taking advantage of her family connections. She half-heartedly tries to find a job, but ends up filling her days nursing hangovers and fantasizing about a future with long time love interest Michael Brenner. Totally ambivalent about the future, Hailey tells a friend, “The thing that would be awesome about getting blown up by terrorists is that everyone would think we had all this unrealized potential.”

What ultimately saves Haimoff's protagonist from becoming just another poor little rich girl is Hailey’s spot-on and sardonic sense of humor. Despite her corrosive attitude and lack of focus, readers will find themselves rooting for Hailey and lamenting her hurdles. The strength of her observations on Manhattan in the wake of 9/11 and on a generation at the precipice of an economic recession will ring true for the millennial generation. In the end, Haimoff’s Hailey may just prove an apt heroine for a new age.

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Discussion Questions 

What do you think the rules and traditions are for modern-day American Jews, both for these characters and in real life? 

In the United States is Judaism a religion or an ethnicity? 

Do you think the generation of Jews in the book is moving closer to Judaism or drifting farther away? 

Do Hailey's Jewish friends identify as Jews? Do yours? 

Does the perfect-on-paper Jewish spouse exist? 

Are there uniquely Jewish expectations to succeed? How is success defined? Does that pressure make it easier or harder to actually succeed?


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