I just finished reading Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Jennie Fields. I found it last week on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble. I keep a list of book recommendations that friends make, or books I’ve seen reviewed that I want to read; this wasn’t on the list but the title sounded so familiar that I figured I had heard about it somewhere. As I read, it became clear to me that what was so familiar about this title was that it is also the title of a Walt Whitman poem.
In a way, reading this book was like watching a train wreck. Things were falling apart for the characters all over the place; of the 2 marriages among main characters, 2 among minor characters and 2 referred to in the family history of the main characters, only ONE was a strong and healthy relationship. Infidelity was rife. In addition, there were plot elements involving Holocaust survivors, major (to the point of incapacitation) depression, child death, and kleptomania. There was SO much suffering, and it’s never redemptive in any way. The author writes well; by this I mean that she can string together beautiful images and sentences–BUT the only character for whom I felt any sympathy was the 6-year-old child of the depressed father and kleptomaniac, adulterous mother. The ending didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story; it was almost as if the author got tired of the whole thing and just tied it all up neatly. I stuck it out to the end (370 pages) because I wanted to find out what happened to the little girl, but this is not a book I’ll be keeping.