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It has been more than 60 years since Elaine Greenstein’s twin sister, Barbara, ran away, cutting off contact with her family forever. Elaine has made peace with that loss. But while sifting through old papers as she prepares to move to Rancho Mañana - or the 'Ranch of No Tomorrow' as she refers to the retirement community - she is stunned to find a possible hint to Barbara’s whereabouts all these years later. And it pushes her to confront the fierce love and bitter rivalry of their youth during the 1920s and 30s, in the Los Angeles Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
Though raised together in Boyle Heights, where kosher delis and storefront signs in Yiddish lined the streets, Elaine and Barbara staked out very different personal territories. Elaine was thoughtful and studious, encouraged to dream of going to college, while Barbara was a bold rule-breaker whose hopes fastened on nearby Hollywood. In the fall of 1939, when the girls were 18, Barbara’s recklessness took an alarming turn. Leaving only a cryptic note, she disappeared.
In an unforgettable voice layered with humor and insight, Elaine delves into the past. She recalls growing up with her spirited family: her luftmensch of a grandfather, a former tinsmith with tales from the Old Country; her papa, who preaches the American Dream even as it eludes him; her mercurial mother, whose secret grief colors her moods - and of course audacious Barbara and their younger sisters, Audrey and Harriet. As Elaine looks back on the momentous events of history and on the personal dramas of the Greenstein clan, she must finally face the truth of her own childhood, and that of the twin sister she once knew.
In The Tin Horse, Janice Steinberg exquisitely unfolds a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bonds between sisters, mothers, and daughters and the profound and surprising ways we are shaped by those we love. At its core, it is a book not only about the stories we tell but, more important, those we believe, especially the ones about our very selves.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Victoria on 10-12-13
The Tin Horse redefines black sheep of the family
Would you listen to The Tin Horse again? Why?
This story was compelling albeit lengthy look at family life during the 1930s. It captures a story about a secular Jewish family living at the time of WWII. The story is told from the perspective of twin daughters in the family and the unlikely paths that lead them apart and together again. The author provides a detailed description of family life at its best and at worst. The complexity of the characters provide an interesting forefront to the wars, gender politics, and racism occurring at this point in world history. I would definitely recommend this read!
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