4 out of 4 stars
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Environments make or mar people — people's environments contribute significantly to who they are and become. Growing up in Brooklyn is what Ron Kemper attempts to display in Sink or Swim, Brooklyn.
The story was set in the 1990s after the great depression and World War Two. It revolved around Steve Alpet, who suffered from a lot of allergies at the early stages of his life. As a growing child, he suffered from measles, mumps, whooping cough, bronchitis, and ear infections. When he was three years old, he was hospitalized for four days with pneumonia. He lived at the mercy of pills and capsules. Ziggy Kahn, the family doctor, tried out different medications, treatments, remedies, salves, oils, and lotions to ensure he survived. How Steve got through life in the rough streets of Brooklyn were captured in this highly emotional book.
I love the way the author infused different writing styles to make the book fun and engaging. This book was a mix of formal and relaxed writing. The author employed a third-person omniscient narrative technique throughout the novel. He maintained dialogues while revealing the unspoken thoughts of each character, thereby letting the reader in on the tiny details.
The author didn't just write a book; he took the time to educate me — and the potential reader — on what it was like to grow up in Brooklyn in the 1990s. I couldn't help but imagine the lifestyle that was prevalent at that time. I also wondered what kind of person I would be considering some of the factors that affected the type of life people lived then.
From the author's detailed description of the setting, it was evident that he had lived in Brooklyn. His use of words depicted an in-depth knowledge of Brooklyn — it couldn't have just been as a result of research. I found his detailed description of children's play and games quite fascinating.
The brevity of the chapters was what I liked most about this book. When I saw the table of contents, I was alarmed to discover that the book had 84 chapters. It felt overwhelming at first as I tried to make sense of why the book had that many chapters. However, when I started reading this book, I noticed that I covered many chapters in a short time. Because the chapters were short and straightforward, I didn't get bored at any point.
The book was professionally edited, as I did not find any errors in the book. I rate it four out of four stars. I recommend it to anyone who loves reading classics with an American setting.
Sink or Swim, Brooklyn
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