Book Review: “Upper West Side Story” by Susan Pashman

May 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
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Susan Pashman in her new book, “upper west book coverUpper West Side Story” published by Harvard Square Editions introduces us to Bettina Grosjean.

From the back cover:  Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor’s office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York’s Upper West Side.

Here is the tale of their fierce parental love as it is tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Max and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs, and dies a few days later.

The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina’s closest friend–that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well–all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world.

Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control.

With cries for racial justice rising up all around our country, we must stop and consider how recent headlines are impacting our children, kids raised to believe in an America that is different from the one now showing its face.

Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis did it the best in their movie, “The Defiant Ones”. A white man and a black man have racial issues, want to kill each other but need each other to survive and by the end find out they like each other. Susan Pashman has given us something similar except for two escaped convicts this story takes place on the Upper West Side. Bettina Grosjean’s marriage may be falling apart. Her son, white, is involved with the death of his best friend, black, and that is the tension that runs through the book. Will the Upper West Side explode because of this? There is racial unrest, political nastiness and friendship.  The story is phenomenal. The themes are perfect and the characters seems to leap off the page. This is one engrossing experience. Well done.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from IRead Book Tours.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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