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Rich Boy

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,226 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Robert Vishniak is the favored son of Oxford Circle, a working-class Jewish neighborhood in 1970s Philadelphia. Handsome and clever, Robert glides into the cloistered universities of New England, where scions of unimaginable wealth and influence stand shoulder to shoulder with scholarship paupers like himself who wash dishes for book money. The doors that open there lead ...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published August 2nd 2010 by Twelve (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,226 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is pure escapist fun without being trashy. The story's approach and focus reminds me a lot of Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar, and more than a cut above Shaw's Rich Man, Poor Man. High-end chick lit, or in this case, lad-lit. But Pomerantz has a fertile sense of place and era that wafts of historical fiction. I visualized the sensual transformation of New York City from what it was in post-WW II through to the mid-1980's. No skimping on the details of the rise of modern Manhattan, such ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I suffered a little heartbreak last night as I turned the last page of this wonderful novel; for the first time, I had to fight the urge to go back to page one and begin again. I've enjoyed many other novels and memoirs that present some version of the story presented here: an American boy's (hmm, it's never a girl) rise from poverty into the upper socio-economic class by dint of hard work, education and a hefty dose of ambition (e.g., Tobias Wolff's "This Boy's Life," Tom Perotta's "Joe ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Will someone please read this fantastic book so I can talk to them about it?? Something of a modern Gatsby though I hate to compare anything to that perfect American classic. Pomerantz mentions Min Jin Lee being very helpful during the editing process (or writing?) and I can see similiarities to Free Food for Millionaires, which was also great. I couldn't wait to find out what happened but at the same didn't want it to end.
C Solis-Sublette
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
A novel that follows the life of a lower middle class protagonist who eventually finds himself rich - through hard work and social connections, this novel is a great character and societal study. The comment on how the class system of American society works is somewhat cynical but necessarily so, I think. Essentially, Robert is able to find his way out of Oxford Circle because he is blessed with good intelligence and very good looks. Are those the keys to the kingdom? Because, even his ...more
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Robert Vishniak, the main protagonist, was born after WW11 in a lower middle-class Jewish family and raised in Philadelphia. His parents raised him and his younger brother, Barry, with a strong hand and did without to guide the boys in the upward direction in all ways. They were raised to be hard workers and hard thinkers. Robert manages to get into a Boston college in the mid-sixties, where he becomes fast friends with his very wealthy roommate, Tracey. He experiences people who come from great ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc
This is the type of novel I couldn't get enough of about 30 years ago. The saga of a self made man who manages to rise to the top of whatever pinnacle he aspires to provided much enjoyment, and in the right hands, insight. The progression of coming of age, discovery of worlds beyond the hero's early life, his means of accomplishing success (and it was always "he"), provided escapism and at least in some cases, voyeuristic fun. But there was always some payoff, and while this is a well written ...more
Becky Sandham Mathwin
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
A well-written page turner. Very entertaining-one of those "I couldn't put it down" sort of books. The novel follows the "trials and tribulations" of a young man from a working class family who achieves financial success and enters into the world of the very wealthy. I'd put it in the class of fiction I call High Brow Soap Opera (well written with good use of vocabulary but soap opera-esque in terms of narrative...the kind of fiction that I tend to enjoy the most!). I liked that the story ...more
Karen Bergreen
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
If Marjorie Morningstar and Free Food for Millionaires gave birth, it would be Rich Boy. I read this book in a day, a dreary rainy day. The best day I have had in months. If you like escapist epic family sagas, this is great. The book is incredibly readable, fun characters. I felt Robert had less depth than I would have liked, but the plot needed to move. Fun fun fun
Aug 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Family sagas have long been a staple among American best-sellers; the examples are wide and vast, The very predictability of the family saga genre promises an absorbing yet familiar reading experience: the once-poor yet highly attractive and charismatic main character who overcomes all kinds of adversities, goes through heartbreak and scandal, and then emerges older, wiser, and in most cases, wealthier than before (or at the very least, with enough knowledge to BECOME wealthier).

Sharon Pomerantz
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rich Boy is a coming-of-age story, and it is wonderfully done. Robert grows up to poor, immigrant, penny-pinching, Jewish parents in Oxford Circle, Philadelphia. His mother Stacia is stern and stingy, his father Vishniak is an overworked postal carrier. Robert is handsome and charismatic and begins enchanting girls from a young age. Much of his story revolves around his relationships with women. Robert vows to leave his parents' home and his neighborhood, wanting to escape the polarized ...more
Randi Reisfeld
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
What I loved most about this been-told-before story of a Jewish boy from humble beginnings who reaches rarified heights via his brains, looks, determination -- and a wealth wife -- was the depiction of the protagonist's humble beginnings. He grew up in a brick row house with seemingly the exact same layout as the one I spent formative years in. The mishegonah cast of characters -- family, neighbors, relatives, friends, rivals and girls -- was so very familiar and fully realized. The book was way ...more
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
I slogged through 300 pages and gave up. This is one of the most old-fashioned books I've read in years, and I don't mean "good old-fashioned" like Austen or Hemingway but "clunky old-fashioned," like something written in about 1965 and later shrunk down into a Reader's Digest Condensed Book. It reminded me a lot of Irwin Shaw or Herman Wouk -- sprawling narratives, rags to riches stories, a complete absence of humor or self-awareness. It also has ridiculous dialogue. Today a curious coworker ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
A long book has to contain enough plot and hook to keep you interested. This book started out being promising, although I had to say, it seemed like she was trying very hard to be like John Irving. A young boy grows up in a Jewish household. He goes to college, gets married and deals with a bunch of stuff along the way. The book didn't have a huge amount that happened, and the last 100 pages really really dragged. When I started this book, I thought for sure, this is my first 5 star of the year, ...more
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-themes
I enjoyed this wonderful novel enormously. Robert Vishniak is born & raised in the northeast of Philadelphia, in the 50s & 60s, in a milieu not completely unlike what my husband grew up in. We follow him as he goes out into the world (i.e., Boston, New York, &c.) The author subtly captures details of different lives & different decades, without being obvious about it. Warm & humanly appealing.
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-fun
A really excellent first novel, which follows the main character out of his lower-class 1960's Jewish neighborhood, to college wherein he becomes entangled with a group of friends that, unlike him, are all very wealthy. The book is basically a character study, and it is fast-paced and pleasant to follow the main character into his 40s while he makes both wise and poor decisions.
Jill Meyer
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sharon Pomerantz's first novel, "Rich Boy" is quite a tour-de-force. I was captivated from the beginning. Her good writing encompasses excellent characterizations and an interesting plot.

Pomerantz's protagonist, Robert Vishniak, was born after WW2 to lower middle-class Jewish parents and raised in a working class area of Philadelphia. His parents - and his mother in particular - are upward-strivers, who live a life of coupon-clipping and doing-without. Robert and his younger brother are
Rich Boy, by Sharon Pomerantz, is a wothwhile ead, and the reader is cognizant that success is a primary concern for the protagonist, Robert Vishniak, as he aspires to gain favors that will allow him to move up in the societal stratum.

Vishniak is from a working class Jewish family who live in Philadelphia. Money is a primary concern for the Vishniaks, and it is apparant from the frugal life they lead. Vishniak is self-indulgent, and with a handsomeness, charm, and superficial exterior. His
Jan 24, 2013 rated it liked it
it took me a little bit to get my thoughts together about this book. i definitely was engaged in it when i was reading it, and looked at it as more "real" literature rather than just fiction pleasure reading. i mean, you're dealing with big topics here. the writing is overall really strong. however, at the end of the book, i was left feeling a little adrift about the whole thing. maybe that is how i was supposed to feel? i also will mention that i literally had to walk away from the book for ...more
Debbie Maskus
Aug 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
A coming-of-age story set in New York spanning 1980-1990. Many times I wondered the point of the discussion, such as the erotia art that Stacia(the mother) had hanging all over the house. Gwendolyn seemed to be the Greek chorus or the social conscience, and would explain people and events that Robert could not understand, then like a chorus she fades. I felt that the beginning of the story seemed like early 20th century, and I had a difficult time adjusting to the Viet Nam Era that seemed to ...more
While working as a bookseller at Borders, I picked up this book because the cover was interesting. I am so glad I did! It was an excellent story with crisp, interesting characters. I would highly recommend it. The story is basically about Robert Vishniak, a Jewish guy, from birth until middle-age. The author deftly wove in the history of the day as Robert grew up. Robert came from very humble beginnings but wanted more. He got it...but did he hold onto it? I won't reveal the ending, but it is a ...more
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I could not relate to the characters except for references to their Jewish Culture. I was annoyed at them in Part I, at the relationships, at the choices they made, but was more excited by Part II. Some it was predictable in the sense that as the story unfolded I said to myself "yeah, I knew that, or I thought so." Part III was even more intense and engaging. I ended up really enjoying this book, found it very interesting, in spite of myself! I would ...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
This book was a good choice to read during the Thanksgiving week-end ---(a delicious dessert), more enjoyable than listen to my own 'little voice' about the holiday's --and the 2 weddings I had to attend this month (and my thoughts about them)

Its easy to get swept along reading RICH BOY, watching the complications of desire, success, wealth, unfold! ......Its THAT type of book! (grab your favorite snuggle-blankie).

I loved it!

Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Robert grows up in a working class Jewish neighborhood in Philadelphia- he is bright, good looking and ambitious. He does everything he can to get out of that life: college, marries money, spends most of his time trying to be what he is not. A meeting with a young woman from the old neighborhood forces him to reevaluate his choices.
Marty Durham
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
loved the understanding of the characters that I got from reading this book. Living in a resort town this was enlightening and a good story. Wish I knew how the main character lived his next chapter in life but the author made me imagine that part.
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a great read. I couldn't put it down for a week. The main character wore on me and I wish the ending weren't so sudden - I could have used more closure with some of the storylines. Overall a very good read though.
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this book. It wasn't bad exactly just a lot of Jewish angst about everything, not going anywhere fast. It said it took the author 5 years to finish. I thought it might take me that long to finish so I gave up after 245 pages.
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very fun story. Reads like a soap opera,but was so engaging it was hard to put down.Tells the story of a Jewish male growing up during the 50's & 60's, and his transformation in the 70's & 80's to a lawyer in NYC.Not Shakespeare but alot of fun.
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
A bit of an ambiguous ending, but I truly enjoyed this fast-paced story about a very handsome young Jewish man from humble beginnings who is able to navigate through the "waspy" social stronghold of Ivy League Universities and New York society from the 1960s through the 1980s.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
For my 40th book of 2010 - this was a great choice!
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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Sharon Pomerantz's fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Ploughshares, the Missouri Review, and Prairie Schooner. In 2003, her story "Ghost Knife" was included in Best American Short Stories 2003. In 1998, her story "Shoes" was read on Selected Shorts at Symphony Space and broadcast nationally. Rich Boy is her first novel and will be out in August of 2010 from Twelve ...more
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“But when he saw Gwendolyn's father, he immediately knew that he was Jewish, in the way that Jews recognize each other, as if with a sixth sense.” 3 likes
“I don't mean to smear our people, but honestly, sometimes I thought the Jews were the worst. Not all, but you know the ones I'm talking about - they weren't like the kids in Oxford Circle, that’s for sure. You sent me off totally fucking unprepared, brother. Not a word of warning. Their doctor and dentist parents worked their way through school, but now they want their babies to go in style. They send them stereos and cars and blank checks. And those were the hippies! Running around in their flowing clothes, their noses surgically tilted in the air! Talking about oppression and the common man, and running off to volunteer at some job, calling it righteous because they don’t have to earn money. Or my favorite, going to summer camp until they’re like forty-five. You’re not a socialist because you sleep in a log cabin and dance in a circle! And who are they angry at, really angry at? Not the Man – they wouldn’t know the Man if he froze their Bloomingdale’s charge cards. No, they’re angry at their parents! The people who fund all this in the first place. If they don’t want their parents, send them my way. I’ve been looking all my life for someone to wipe my ass and pay my bills.” 1 likes
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