3 out of 4 stars
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Escape from the Lower East Side by Richard Peres is an interesting work of historical fiction that looks at the author’s ancestors and their struggles when immigrating to the United States of America. Harris Wolff was the author’s great grandfather and he immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1851 aboard a ship called the Nord Amerika. The story focuses on the author’s family history with fictional elements added.
The book follows Harris as he begins a life in New York City. He enjoys the excitement of the city compared to the small town in Germany where he is from, but he’s lonely and wishes he had someone to share his life with. As Harris makes his life in the new country, he eventually settles down with a wife and children. It interesting to see how the story shifts its focus to the next generation and how his children learn to be independent and make their own decisions about careers and their futures.
The author conveys the emotions of an immigrant moving to a country where he doesn’t speak the language fluently and tries to make a living. As a reader, I could appreciate the uncertainty and confusion felt by Harris as he tried to find work and a place to live. Also, the descriptions of life on the Nord Amerika while traveling to New York was very realistic and conveyed the hardships experienced by people on their journey to a new life.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was obvious that the author conducted a considerable amount of research into his family history and that period while writing. What I liked most about the book was when the author included historical facts and events. This provided a depth to the story and put the events experienced by the characters into perspective for the reader. The book also includes photographs that add to the story. What I liked least about the book is that it contains many errors. The errors range from inconsistent spacing to typographical errors that were distracting at times. For this reason, I don’t believe the book was professionally edited.
I enjoyed the story in the book and the historical elements provided by the author. There was very little profanity or sexual situations, so I would recommend the book to anyone that enjoys historical fiction or stories about immigration to the United States of America. It is well researched and interesting. However, due to the number of errors, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Escape from the Lower East Side
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