Thirty years after From Rockaway ["A great first novel" (Harper's Bazaar)], Jill Eisenstadt returns with a darkly funny new work of fiction that exposes a city and a family at their most vulnerable.
When Sue Glassman's family needs a new home, Sue relents, after years of resisting, and agrees to convert to Judaism. In return Sue's father-in-law, Sy, buys the family - Sue, Dan, and their two daughters - a capacious but ramshackle beachfront house in Rockaway, Queens, a world away from the Glassmans' cramped Tribeca apartment. The catch? Sy is moving in, too. And the house is haunted.
On the weekend of Sue's conversion party, 90-year-old Rose, who (literally) got away with murder on the premises years earlier, shows up uninvited. Towing a suitcase-size pocketbook, having escaped an assisted living facility in Forest Hills, Rose seems intent on moving back in. Enter neighbor Tim - formerly Timmy (see From Rockaway), a former lifeguard, former firefighter, and reformed alcoholic - who feels, for reasons even he can't explain, inordinately protective of the Glassmans.
The collective nervous breakdown occasioned by Rose's return swells to operatic heights in a novel that charms and surprises as it unflinchingly addresses the perils of living in a world rife with uncertainty.
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- KEVIN TIMPONE