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Modern Girls

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,297 ratings  ·  564 reviews
A dazzling debut novel set in New York City’s Jewish immigrant community in 1935...
How was it that out of all the girls in the office, I was the one to find myself in this situation? This didn’t happen to nice Jewish girls.
In 1935, Dottie Krasinsky is the epitome of the modern girl. A bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan, Dottie steals kisses from her steady beau, meets her
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Berkley Books
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Rachael Sage Yes, the writer was inspired by stories from her own family, but the story and characters are fictional. The rise of Nazi power in Germany stays mostl…moreYes, the writer was inspired by stories from her own family, but the story and characters are fictional. The rise of Nazi power in Germany stays mostly on the edges of this narrative as the author zooms in to focus closely on a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side in NYC. (less)

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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,297 ratings  ·  564 reviews

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Jennifer S. Brown
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Okay, I didn't just read this book... I wrote it! And I'm pretty happy about that, too! ...more
Abby Fabiaschi
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am angry at Jennifer S. Brown for keeping up until one and then stealing an hour and a half of my work time this morning; I simply had to know what happened to Dottie. I enjoyed the novel from page 1, but by the time I was halfway through I became a reader obsessed. It's rare I leave a book hoping there will be a sequel, but I would certainly inhale another novel with Dottie. Author take note! ...more
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Nineteen year old Dottie Krasinsky has it all; a great job in New York City, loving family, loyal friends, and a boyfriend. This great life may come undone because she is pregnant by another man. It is the 1930’s and there are very few options for a pregnant single woman. Dottie has not told her family and is beginning to panic.

Rose Krasinsky, Dottie’s mother, is a Russian immigrant. She is in her early forties and is raising her family in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She finds herself unex
The year is 1935 and 6 members of the Krasinsky family in a 2 bedroom apartment in Mahattan's Lower East Side. Russian-born Rose is the 42 year-old matriarch, and her eldest child, 19-year old Rose, is a bookkeeper in an insurance office. Both find themselves pregnant with unwanted children.

"Modern Girls" provided an insightful portrait of a newly-arrived Jewish family, the relationship between a mother and daughter, and the choices women had (and didn't have) in the mid 1930's. While many books
Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)
Rarely, upon finishing a book, am I at such a loss for words. What I want to know is: Where is the rest of the book? Modern Girls had the potential to be so much more...

Rose and Dottie, a Jewish mother and daughter living in 1930's Manhattan, become pregnant at the same time. Neither is exactly thrilled to learn that they are in the family way. Rose is in her early 40's and will soon regain some freedom as her youngest son begins his education. Dottie is unwed and running out of options.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had heard good things about Modern Girls, so when I suggested it to my book club, I was pleased that they were all interested to read it for our next meeting. And really, it’s the perfect book for my club, as we are all Jewish women and most of us are mothers, as well. The Orthodox customs and traditions spread throughout the novel are full of detail and would be easily understandable by someone who is not Jewish or observant. There are Yiddish words used a lot of the time, but explained, as w ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recent-favorites
HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this book! Incredibly well-written, fully-developed characters, and the pacing was en pointe - "I'll just read one more chapter...Ok, just ONE more chapter"...and an hour goes by in a blink. Rich in the Jewish culture of lower east side of Manhattan, a tribute to the love between mothers and daughters, this was easily one of my favorite books of the year. Like many other readers, I am begging for a sequel to find out what is next for Dottie and Rose. ...more
Lara Lillibridge
I have to say this is one of my favorite books of the year. MODERN GIRLS tells the story of two women—a mother and daughter—both with unplanned pregnancies in pre-WW2 NYC. It alternates between Rose—the mother—and Dottie, her daughter. The voices of the two protagonists are so distinct, their characters so fully developed that I didn't need (or notice) the chapter names to tell me who was speaking. It's truly a riveting story with all the feels—sometimes I had to step away because I felt the ten ...more
Renée Rosen
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Great mother-daughter story with a twist or two! Review to come!
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
there are so many reasons i loved this book. it was like reading about my great grandparents. it was an education about jewish lives in new york city in the 1930's- and really about all immigrants in many ways. it dealt with a woman's right to choose - something we are still fighting for all these years later. i really felt for the two main characters and their mother/daughter relationship, and their friendships with other women. there are passages that will stay with me, some heart breaking, so ...more
Heather Webb
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time, and I finally got down to business. I can't believe it took me so long. It has a great cover, an interesting premise, and it's set in one of my very favorite cities in the world-- Old New York. Jennifer Brown nails the sensibilities of the lower east side in the 1930s, and infuses the narrative with fascinating cultural and historical tidbits with a deft hand. There are glimmers of humor as well. Brown's research is assured and authentic, ...more
And here's another book of which I'll have a vastly different opinion from the masses...

I can see why folks enjoy this book so much. Brown does an excellent job holding the reader's attention, and her writing is so clear and engaging. Quite often, an author's debut novel is full of clunky writing that gets in the way of the story, but this definitely isn't the case here. Brown writes so well that the reader forgets that she's reading words on a page; it feels more like a movie is unfolding in he
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is 1935 and a mother and daughter each come to a critical point in their lives. Russian Jews living in New York, the pull of the new world and the ties to the old world are illustrated in the daily actions and in how each come to terms with what they decide to do about their pregnancies. While to everyone, this is the story of immigrants and of women becoming more independent, but to me it was also a bit more personal. While not Russian or Jewish, I could clearly see my Polish Catholic grandm ...more
Pam Jenoff
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, which tells of a mother and daughter in 1930s New York who both find themselves unexpectedly pregnant at the same time. Brown chronicles their choices in a way that is realistic for the period, unflinchingly honest and admirably brave.
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had a hard time putting this book down. In today's age, unwed mothers can be frequently found in every neighborhood. Working mother's, especially older mother's are also common. In the 1930's though, standards were still high and getting pregnant before marriage was enough to bring shame down on the whole family. Business could be lost, opportunities not granted, and not just for the poor girl in question - but for the entire family.

We think it was such a simpler time, but they had all the sa
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2016
In Jennifer S. Brown’s Modern Girls it’s 1935 in New York City and mother and daughter, Rose and Dottie Krasinsky both find themselves in similar straits. Rose, Dottie’s mother, is 42 years old and thinks her childbearing days are over. She longs to return to the days when she can devote herself to the “cause,” raise the children she has, and find some time for her. Dottie, her oldest child and only daughter, has a promising career as a bookkeeper and a steady beau she hopes to marry. An argumen ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
An incredible book about a mother and daughter in 1930's manhattan. As women we strive to either be like our mothers or to forge our own paths. I've noticed in my life and experience that even when forging my own path I'm still very much my mother's daughter.

Modern Girls is about a mother and daughter both facing the same situation. How will they handle it? What choices will they make? And how alike are they?

Modern Girls would make an excellent book club pick
Sue Seligman
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown is an amazing novel set in 1935 New York City. Dottie Krasinsky is the daughter of immigrant parents living on the Lower East Side and working as a bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan. Like most 19 year old girls of that time and place she is anxious to marry her steady boyfriend and start her own family, but her mother, Rose, wants her to fulfill her mathematical talents and pursue higher education to become an accountant. Rose has had a difficult life, experiencin ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I could not stop reading it.

In 1935, Dottie Krasinsky considers herself a modern girl. She has a good job as a bookkeeper, a steady boyfriend, wonderful girlfriends and is up on all the latest fashions. But at heart she is a very traditional young woman, living with her family on the lower East Side. But after a single careless night with a man who is not her boyfriend, she finds herself pregnant and desperate.

Rose is Dottie's immigrant mother, married 20 years, immersed in
Bailee Star
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This extraordinary book, rich with historical detail, grapples with the challenges of assimilating to American culture. Throughout, the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe looms in the backdrop as families struggle to succeed financially and otherwise in the 1930's.

The book is told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter, Rose and Dottie Krasinsky, members a Jewish immigrant family living in New York’s Lower East Side in the 1930's. The author’s complex and nuanced portrayal of the family’s
Connie Mayo
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As much of a cultural immersion as a dip in the mikvah, Modern Girls is a great, compelling read. I particularly found the middle of the book gripping, so much so that while I was reading on the train, it was a good thing that my stop was the last or else I might have missed it. I love that the author turned some traditional expectations on their side. It's a particular kind of trick to have alternating point of view chapters and make the reader equally interested in both characters, but I was d ...more
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! The two key characters - Dottie and her mother Rose - and their dilemmas are made so real through clever story-telling, gripping dialogue and cinematic scene setting, that I could "see" the movie playing out in my head. The author brings us into the living rooms of immigrants in New York City and introduces us to their struggles and dreams, cultures and customs and a tumultuous time in history in a way that makes us feel like an insider. This is historical fiction ...more
Ruby Grad
Apr 17, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book may not be for everyone, but I really liked it. The story is centered on an immigrant and first generation Eastern European Jewish family in New York, living on the lower Eastside when that was really a shtetl. Both mother and daughter find themselves in interesting situations, and the plot is how they play out. I got involved in the characters and their story and thought it was very well written and researched.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I have read many books set during this turbulent time in our history, but nothing that has tackled the delicate subject of unexpected pregnancies in a mother AND a daughter. The setting is 1935, New York City. The Krasinsky family lives in an apartment in the Lower East side of a Jewish neighborhood. Dottie is the responsible daughter who works in Midtown Manhatten crunching numbers all day. It may sound boring but for Dottie, numbers calm her and bring her structure. If she can just make the nu ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel explores the lives of Russian Jewish immigrants in NYC in 1935. Life is not easy and apartments are cramped but there is a lot of pride in having been able to save money for a ticket on the ship and for having attained a visa.

Rose is so proud of her daughter. She never wanted her to have to work with her hands and do sewing as she does. Dottie has an affinity for numbers and finds safety in them. She works at Dover Insurance and is given a promotion to Head Accountant. But mom has oth
Stephanie Tournas
Rose, very much an old world transplant, and her daughter, a career girl, follow unexpected paths in this moving historical novel set in New York in 1935. In alternating chapters, Rose and Dottie each describe the shock of their pregnancies and the impact on their lives.

Dottie, at her accounting job, describes with almost sensual delight her love of numbers: "I pictured evenings filled with numbers swirling around, multiplying and dividing, leaping along the number line, digits building and sno
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had this book on my radar for quite sometime and was finally able to start it over the holidays. It was a truly special story following Dottie Krasinsky and her mother Rose during the pre-WWII years in a New York City. Dottie is a young Jewish girl living at home with her parents, working as a bookkeeper and trying to enjoy her "modern" life, having drinks with friends, listening to jazz music, and going steady with her boyfriend waiting for him to pop the question. Her mother Rose is an immig ...more
Louise Miller
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing

MODERN GIRLS is such an engrossing novel. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. Brown has an incredible hand with details, using every one of the five senses. I feel like I know the textures and smells of the streets and cramped apartments of the Lower East Side in the 30’s, the closeness of living in small spaces with large families. I could taste the pickled tongue and smell the scent of Aqua Velva. Brown also has such a skillful hand at weaving in historical details. I learned so much abou
A wonderful debut and thanks to Suzanne (who is on Facebook also) for offering me the chance to read this book.

This book is about a Jewish family living in the Lower East Side of NY in 1935. It focused on Dottie mostly who was a working woman, which was unusual I think at that time and pregnant. Also focused on not only her family of brothers but also on her mother Rose who was in the same predicament (pregnant) as her daughter at the "ripe old age" of 39 which I guess was old back then. What wa
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Ok, I call bs on all the 4 and 5 star reviews for this book. Did we read the same thing? For starters the writing just seemed so horribly amateurish. The dialogue, plot, historical elements all were awkwardly contrived. The story was repetative and oh so cliche at times. At one point I actually looked up the author to see if she had written this as a student work. It just read weird. just ended. Oh, you wanted there to be plot resolution or a point to the story? Ummmm....sorry. It was ...more
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Jennifer S. Brown lives and writes in the suburbs of Boston. She grew up in Florida, but has slowly discovered the benefits of cold weather, and she's developed a passion for snow shoeing, drinking bourbon in front of the fireplace, and writing while draped with a blanket. She's an avid runner, a voracious reader, and a passionate, if not quite skilled, baker. She lives with her husband and two ki ...more

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