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Snow in August : a novel
Pete Hamill
Adult Fiction HAMILL

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From Publishers' Weekly:

It's Christmastime, 1946. A blizzard has hit Brooklyn, but altarboy Michael Devlin, 12, is determined to be on time to serve the eight o'clock mass. On his way, he passes the local synagogue, where he sees old Rabbi Hirsch gesturing to him. It is the Jewish Sabbath, and the rabbi needs a non-Jew to switch on the light. Michael does, and is rewarded with a nickel. The boy lives with his Belfast-born mother in a tenement‘his father was killed during WWI‘and dreams winter dreams of Captain Marvel and of the new Dodgers rookie, Jackie Robinson. But soon neighborhood events will alter Michael's life. He witnesses Frankie McCarthy, a "nasty prick," beat the Jewish owner of the corner candy store into a coma. McCarthy warns Michael to keep quiet, and the frightened boy does. Michael becomes Rabbi Hirsch's Shabbos goy, the gentile who does the needed work on the Sabbath. Soon he is teaching the rabbi, a war refugee, English and baseball. In turn, the rabbi teaches Michael Yiddish and about the golem, a monstrous, animated artificial human being. The idyll is broken as McCarthy and his gang, the Falcons, continue their reign of terror. They paint swastikas on the synagogue. They beat up Michael and sexually harass his mother. Then they batter Rabbi Hirsch nearly to death. Vowing "never again," the boy, possessed of the absolute purity of belief, calls into the Talmudic past for help that will forever change his neighborhood. As in his memoir A Drinking Life, Hamill, in this beautifully woven tale, captures perfectly the daily working-class world of postwar Brooklyn. Sounding religious overtones that will thrill believers and make non-believers pause, he examines with a cool head and a big heart the vulnerabilities and inevitable oneness of humankind. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In Brooklyn in 1947, Michael Devlin, an 11-year-old Irish kid who spends his days reading Captain Marvel and anticipating the arrival of Jackie Robinson, makes the acquaintance of a recently emigrated Orthodox rabbi. In exchange for lessons in English and baseball, Rabbi Hirsch teaches him Yiddish and tells him of Jewish life in old Prague and of the mysteries of the Kabbalah. Anti-Semitism soon rears its head in the form of a gang of young Irish toughs out to rule the neighborhood. As the gang escalates its violence, it seems that only being as miraculously powerful as Captain Marvel‘or a golem‘could stop them. Strongly evoking time and place, Hamill (Piecework, LJ 12/95), editor of New York's Daily News, serves up a coming-of-age tale with a hearty dose of magical realism mixed in. Recommended for most public libraries.‘Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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