This is good and touching, but different than I expected. I thought it was going to be about the apparently epic task of constructing the bridge, as in the McCullough history, The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
, that I want to read.
Instead, it is about her fictional version of what life was like for the Russian immigrant family that invented the Teddy Bear, as narrated by a 15-yr-old son. This is all very interesting with funny and sad things about their immediate family and extended family, all escaped from persecution in Russia, as well as their poor immigrant community. However, it's the type of thing more adults will like than teenagers.
The other thread is the tragic stories of the homeless children living in a semi-community underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. There are more than a dozen anecdotes, with these telling a separate story that eventually ties back into the main Russian immigrant family's story. These are very sad and sometimes hard to read for me even without being graphic at all.
There's also another supernatural element like in Witness
, though a bit more prominent. And there are also running quotes about the newly constructed Coney Island from actual period newspapers because the main kid wants to go there so bad.
The problem was that these different parts didn't mesh together seamlessly. In fact, I didn't really think the Coney Island quotes added much even though the fact they're from the time period is interesting. The sad homeless kid profiles don't connect either until the end, and that rushed part didn't quite feel natural.
That said, I still loved the main story so much that it overcame the weird plot appendages for me. It was a good, wholesome book that brought to life the reality of poverty and love and loss and change. Others may find the disjointed plot more jarring, and this won't excite large numbers of teens.