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Snow in August

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  4,621 Ratings  ·  558 Reviews
Set in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood in 1947, this poignant tale revolves around two of the most endearing characters in recent fiction: an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch, a refugee from Prague.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published October 1st 1999 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1997)
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Apr 23, 2008 Maurean rated it really liked it
This is a fabulously told tale of friendship and faith. A wonderful story; the most moving prose I have read in a very long time. Parts brought tears to my eyes, while others made me laugh out loud; I found myself angered, ashamed, delighted and awed. If I had a son, I would want him to display those characteristics I found so appealing in Micheal Devlin; Rabbi Hirsch's story touched my very soul; and I felt as though I was transported to that hot summer day to watch Jackie Robinson play his fir ...more
Jul 03, 2007 Amanda rated it it was amazing
This is one of very few books that I have read more than once (why read something again when you know what will happen and there are so many other choices out there?). I think I've read this 5 times.

I dislike hardcover books but I am purchasing this in HC so I will have it forever. Just seeing this book on a shelf makes me happy.
JoAnne Pulcino
Pete Hamill
This destined to be a classic book is a gorgeous trip to the world of miracles. An 11 year old Irish Catholic boy and an elderly Jewish rabbi meet in Brooklyn in the 1940’s. The magic of their relationship is poignant and breathtakingly touching despite their lives being threatened by the violence of street gangs, anti Semitism and their very different, but very difficult lives.
Mr. Hamill’s gift for creating a sense of place and time with characters that pop off the page
Jan 02, 2009 Antof9 rated it really liked it
This book review was written 4 months or so after I read the book. Thus the lameness.

I do remember that I really liked it. So much that I've been looking for other Pete Hamill books since then. In addition, I know I really liked it at the time, as I listed this book in the Book Talk Forum (on BookCrossing) as one of the "best books I'd read this year" (in July).

Something else I remember is that the man sitting next to me on the plane was asking me about the book, and why I'd chosen to read that
Apr 10, 2009 Dan rated it really liked it
This book will bring you back to the late 1940's in Brooklyn. The author weaves analogies between Jackie Robinson and baseball, Jews and non-Jews and bullies and the harassed. The story depicts unjust discrimination so prevalent around this time. The ending was a little too way out there to be believed but did make you feel good about its outcome. Hamill's writing style is typical of a New Yorker who knows the streets.
Ordered this specifically to fit personal seasonal quest.

my brother John

Joel Oppenheimer
who heard the cries of
"Yonkel! Yonkel! Yonkel"
in the summer bleachers of 1947.

Opening quotes:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

A Jew can't live without miracles.
Yiddish Proverb

Opening: Once upon a cold and luminous Saturday morning, in an urban hamlet of tenements, factories, and trolley cars on the western slopes of the
Nov 10, 2007 Kate rated it liked it
I actually really enjoyed this book. The 3 star rating is because the ending disappointed me terribly. But up until then, I loved it. It's the story of a young Catholic boy who befriends a Jewish rabbi during the early 1940s in New York City. It's really captivating and the characters are endearing. I think it's worth a read, even though the ending wasn't great. And I should add that I read this for book group and came to appreciate the ending more after that. If anyone has read it and has thoug ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: high-brow
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasty
Tight, detailed believable characters and tone made this a 4-star until the last 20 pages, when the author craps out and goes for the insta-solution to all the believable difficult real-life-like conflict and difficulty by making a sudden genre switch to magical realism. Well written, but ultimately disappointing.
Jun 04, 2014 Kathie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-new-york
This is the second of Hamill's books I've read. Also read "Forever" recently. He writes a terrific story, but I find the descent into fantasy at the end pretty annoying. Just as in "Forever" the history component is so interesting. Much better ending might have been to find a way for Michael to become the man he wants to be by trusting.
Mar 14, 2017 Amerriefaerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tend to read mostly women authors. Not on purpose or because I'm on a mission or anything. They just happen to be the ones that appeal to me. When I read the summary of this book mentioning Irish catholic, post ww2, Judaism and magic (all things that have touched my life) I was intrigued. I have three sons and the story , being told by a young boy, Micheal Devlin, gave me a better understanding of my boys and how they think, act and feel. I ran the gamut of feelings from happy, laugh out loud ...more
Oct 13, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
This is the third time reading. Because of our community read, The Golem and the Jinni; we decided to pick this one. Pete Hamill's story is wonderful.

Michael, Irish Catholic 10 year old. Living in Brooklyn in the 1940's. Michael is a average kid, there isn't any TV. Instead,Michael likes to go to the local movie theatre where he's mom works-with his friends. He also enjoys reading comic books- Superman.

Michael, and his Brooklyn friends are threatened by the gang, The Falcons. I should say the
Jul 30, 2009 Clif rated it liked it
This book is about prejudice and injustice. For that reason I could not get through it; only making it about half-way. Here is the reason.

The Holocaust was a horror and, before it, the mistreatment of Jews through the ages. As a reaction to this, a broad effort has been made to publicize these wrongs of the past. There is a Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C., there is also one about 3 miles from where I live, upon which millions have been spent. In Illinois, it is the law that all school chi
Kristen Carannante
Nov 20, 2011 Kristen Carannante rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story of the tender friendship of 11-yr-old Michael Devlin, Irish-American altar boy, who loves baseball, comic books and adventure stories and 39-yr-old Judah Hirsch, Czech rabbi, recently arrived from Prague at the end of World War II and their private war with the Falcons, a gang of thugs terrorizing the Brooklyn neighborhood in which they live.

These unlikely friends teach each other many things.

Michael learns to speak Yiddish, scoring a discount on a suit on Orchard Street, when
Karen Douglass
Oct 05, 2015 Karen Douglass rated it really liked it
For most of the book I was excited and amazed by its range--race, ethnicity, poverty, power, history--and by the delicious use of language, both English and Yiddish, and I was truly enthralled by the characters. I couldn't wait to finish it so that I could read it again. My enthusiasm waned at the end when I realized that I had not believed the blurb on the front cover, which called it "a fable . . ." So much of it felt real--Jackie Robinson's entry into the big leagues, the street gangs in Broo ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Judio rated it liked it
I am finding it difficult to rate this one.

Hamill's tale about the friendship between a young Catholic boy and a Jewish rabbi is fascinating. Michael, caught in a blizzard on his way to assist at Mass one morning, hears a voice through the snow and sees a rabbi in the doorway of the synagogue. From this unlikely meeting, a remarkable friendship develops, with Michael teaching the rabbi English and the rabbi teaching him Yiddish, Hebrew and a lot of other things. There are accounts of gang viole
Apr 20, 2012 Jeanine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my all time favorites. This book was so important to me. Beautiful, lovely .... A certain line in this book made me stop, drop the book in my lap and start bawling. Reflecting on that seemingly innocuous line redefined some personal history for me, helping to restore me. I will not quote the line as it was a quite personal reaction. Please read this book and share this book. An awesome story.
Gail Klein
Jan 02, 2016 Gail Klein rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!
One of my favorite books ever!!!!!
In Snow in August, Pete Hamill reconstructs a time and place that is very dear to a second hand way. The ethnic working class city neighborhood in post-War America. I knew parts of this tale already; my favorite stories growing up were the ones my dad told me about the Old Neighborhood in those optimistic years after the war but before the realization dawned that the city was dying. Before I knew the man, there was the Boy. I have caught only glimpses of the Boy throughout my life -- the ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A creative delight. As imaginative as Jewish mythology, as real as Jackie Robinson, this book is set in a postwar Brooklyn neighborhood. The main character, Michael, is a sensitive young Catholic boy with friends and suddenly enemies from the street. Circumstances bring him into a friendship with a Jewish rabbi from Prague and together they explore the city's history and the story of Jewish life there over the ages. This may seem an unlikely mixture of times and places but the author weaves it i ...more
Apr 30, 2009 George rated it liked it
Shelves: pete-hamill
Overall Pete Hamill's 'Snow in August' was an enjoyable read. Set in Brooklyn, New York, in 1947, two years after WWII, a time when nationality, race or religion was much more important than character, the year that Jackie Robinson first played major league baseball at Ebbets Field for 'dem bums' the Brooklyn Dodgers: This story is filled with nostalgia; especially for us (very) old east-coast people. Told through the wide and innocent eyes of an eleven year old boy, it is sprinkled with warmth ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Carole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Pete Hamill’s writing. He brings you into the heads of his characters; he paints a picture of the streets of New York unlike any author; he vividly portrays life at the time in which his books are set, and he does it simply. His writing is magical….in more ways than one.

Snow in August is both a coming of age story and a morality tale where differences in religion, education, nationality, and upbringing drive the narrative. Employing magical realism, Hamill highlights the unlikely relatio
Aug 15, 2011 Mrinaalika rated it liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. For one thing, the readers had the chance to literally see the growth of independence and confidence in Michael. From being a kid nobody really knew or cared for, and being talked into stupid things by Sonny, he stood up for what he knew was right. I also loved experiencing Prague and the Jewish culture through Rabbi Hirsch. It was just an added bonus to the existing plot. I also found it interesting to see the prejudice and segregation, only because thoug ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Dorota rated it it was amazing
I think that when you learn a foreign language just because you want to, not because it's one of your mandatory classes, you pay attention to words a lot, you pick your favorite ones, you know which ones don't sound all that great to you. My favorite English words have always been "kind" and "lovely".

Michael Devlin is a kind Catholic boy, and the book is a lovely story about Michael befriending Rabbi Hirsch, a refugee from Prague. Words have "a special power and mystery to Michael" and Rabbi Hi
n 1940s Brooklyn, friendship between an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy & an elderly Jewish rabbi might seem as unlikely as, well, snow in August. But the relationship between young Michael Devlin & Rabbi Judah Hirsch is only one of the many miracles large and small. Michael finds himself in trouble when he witnesses the 17-year-old leader of the dreaded Falcons gang beating an elderly shopkeeper. For Michael, 1940s Brooklyn is a world still shaped by life in the Old Country, a world wher ...more
Nov 20, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it
From Amazon: In 1940s Brooklyn, friendship between an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy and an elderly Jewish rabbi might seem as unlikely as, well, snow in August. But the relationship between young Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch is only one of the many miracles large and small contained in Pete Hamill's novel. Michael finds himself in trouble when he witnesses the 17-year-old leader of the dreaded Falcons gang beating an elderly shopkeeper. For Michael, 1940s Brooklyn is a world still shap ...more
Kathleen Payne
Dec 19, 2015 Kathleen Payne rated it liked it
This book reminded me of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", only through the eyes of Michael, a 10 year old boy in Brooklyn in 1948 after the war. The neighborhood has it's share of bullies that torment him and other victims, including a few older Jewish men. On Michaels way to serve as an altar server for mass at the Catholic Church, Michael is asked by an elderly Jewish Rabbi to be his "Shabbos goy". This simple job of turning on lights for the rabbi on the Sabboth, turns into a wonderful friendship ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Kristine rated it really liked it
This story has a variety of themes that could lead to very thought provoking discussions about racism, immigration, integrity, courage, loyalty, and friendship. It is well written and the characters become very real as the story progresses. The book is definitely meant for a more mature audience. In the scenes of gang fights, one shudders at the violence, and the reader must be prepared for some foul language, but I didn't find these scenes as sensational tactics, but as a way for the writer to ...more
Jul 12, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any one and everyone
Recommended to Melissa by: Richie Urban
Wow...this book makes you belive in things that you normally wouldn't. It's a dark look inside Catholic Boy's life, and how it changes when he meets a rabbi, Rabbi Hirsch. Even though he is bullied by the older boys for taking lessons from a Jew, he sticks by his new friend and a relationship develops. I would say that this could be a wonderful children's story , but I think it's just too deep. Rather, read by an adult, it's a peek into what it's like to be a kid and have so many disturbing, rea ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Andreasoldier rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
A nice Irish Catholic boy befriends a Jewish rabbi in Brooklyn during World War II.
Even as horrible things are happening overseas, smaller atrocities are happening in the neighborhood.
When Michael Devlin witnesses a crime, he and his friends remain silent. But their silence leads to more crime.
Michael turns to Rabbi Judah Hirsch for help to summon an ancient power, the Gollem, to come their aid.
The atmosphere and characters were spot on.
The story was terrific, and then magic entered the picture
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Pete Hamill is a novelist, essayist and journalist whose career has endured for more than forty years. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. in 1935, the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended Catholic schools as a child. He left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheetmetal worker, and then went on to the United States Navy. While serving in t ...more
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“He tried to imagine the sound of the color red.” 11 likes
“Besides, skin color was skin color, right? It was just the color of your goddamned skin. There was nothing anybody could do about that. You were born with it. Like some people were born with big feet or blue eyes. You didn't make the choice. Your parents did. Or God did.” 6 likes
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