Modern Girls – by Jennifer S. Brown – independent book review – Historical Fiction (United States)

Overall, I think the best one word summary for this book is clunky. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.
modernDottie and her mother Rose both find themselves unhappily pregnant in New York City in the mid 1930s. Great potential, right? On the plus side, here’s what you get:
1. Two strong female characters.
2. The inherent tension between a middle aged mother needing to let go of her adult daughter.
3. An immigrant mother remembering the persecution of the Old World and appreciating the freedom of the United States living with a first generation American daughter who yearns to be fashionable and modern and is a bit ashamed of her family’s modest circumstances and reliance on Old World values.
4. Involvement in the socialist movement of the 1930s in New York City.
5. A glimpse into a moment in feminist history when women were able to participate in the work force, but expected to give up everything once they became wives and mothers.
6. Intense societal pressure and judgement around the issue of pre-marital sex.
Unfortunately, all these elements were simply not artfully integrated.
When characters in this novel espouse socialist values, it does not ring true — it feels stuck in. The integration of Yiddish phrases, which I assume is an effort to make this Jewish family feel more authentic actually feels forced, overdone and distracting, bordering on stereotyping. But my biggest criticism is around the resolution of the plot — which comes on too quickly, seems unrealistic and left me feeling unsatisfied. In fact, it felt much more like the author was setting up a sequel, rather than finishing a novel.
Modern Girls is a fast read because you will be eager to find out what happens to these two women. And there are a few surprises along the way. But I think the book needed more polish and a better editor.

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