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Baldwin Street    by Alvin Rakoff order for
Baldwin Street
by Alvin Rakoff
Order:  USA  Can
Bunim & Bannigan, 2007 (2002)
*   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

As a child of immigrant parents I grew up with stories of assimilation in New York and the very real economic hardships of the Depression in various parts of the United States. So Baldwin Street struck a familiar chord. Here are boys, women, storekeepers, families living and working together in tight times. Here also are the hopes and fears of belonging or not belonging, and always the difficulties of poverty.

The author has provided a lovely series of vignettes about life in a certain part of Toronto where some Jewish merchants and their families lived. We meet unforgettable characters such as Murray Millstein, who when he loses his wife Molly, chooses to remember her in a way that scandalizes the neighborhood until they understand how to deal with it. Boyish pranks and adult prejudices are chronicled along with descriptions of the smells, sights and sounds of the street.

This would be a delightful book but for one thing. The author has a regrettable way of writing sentences. One. Word. At. A. Time. While this might be a useful technique for certain kinds of scenes, it definitely palls throughout the book. Mr. Rakoff, you have impeccable credentials. Why did you choose to express yourself this way?

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