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Snow in August

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  5,976 ratings  ·  701 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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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,976 ratings  ·  701 reviews

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Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. It started out pretty good, and for most part, I really enjoyed it, but there were parts that bothered me.

Snow in August is about an eleven year old boy, Michael and his friends who live in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1947 just after WWII had ended. They go into a candy store one day and see a crime that is being committed; the Jewish shopkeeper is being beat up. The gang leader sees the boys in the store and threatens them to keep quiet.

Michael and his friends have
Apr 23, 2008 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
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
Jul 03, 2007 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.
Joseph Sciuto
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely enchanting, magical, sociological, psychological, and cultural novel about a 1947 Brooklyn neighborhood in which its citizens are mostly Irish Catholic, Italian, and Jewish. The agony of World War II and its suffering and lost are still a very big part of their everyday life. They live in tenements where most apartments still rely on coal to heat their apartments, turn on the hot water, and cook on their stoves.

The main character, Michael Devlin, an eleven year alter boy who attend
Nov 10, 2007 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
Nathaniel Winters
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This intelligent well written book will go down as one of my favorites of all time. Read this book.

Elizabeth (Alaska)
The central character in this is Michael Devlin, an Irish Catholic altar boy. On his way to mass one Saturday morning in an almost blinding snowstorm, he performs an act of kindness and ends up becoming the shabbos goy (Sabbath boy) for Rabbi Hirsch. A strong bond of friendship forms when Michael takes on the task of teaching Rabbi Hirsch English, getting lessons in Yiddish in exchange. Michael is quite the reader. He reads Captain Marvel comics, but also is familiar with most of Jack London, an ...more
May 07, 2009 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.
Jan 02, 2009 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
Jun 04, 2014 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. ...more
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
Apr 10, 2009 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. ...more
Apr 20, 2012 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.
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
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-york-city
Sentimental but I loved it.
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Set in late 1940s Brooklyn, Michael Devlin, a Catholic altar boy, pursues an unlikely friendship with Rabbi Hirsch, performing duties such as turning on lights on the Sabbath and teaching the Jewish leader English and baseball. In return Michael learns Yiddish. The neighborhood is full of bullies who terrorize Jews. Michael realizes these were the same Jews his dad died trying to free from Hitler's regime. It's an interesting story depicting consequences of prejudice. This poignant read will sta ...more
Kristen Carannante
Nov 20, 2011 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
Apr 30, 2016 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
Dec 02, 2008 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 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book until the ending, which I found really jarring in contrast to the rest of trhe book. To talk about why would spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it. But I can say that the author's essay at the end of the book helped me a bit. It talks about a boy's imagination. The main character is an eleven-year-boy who loves comic books. As the Golem is perhaps the prototype of all superhero characters, I think I get what the author was trying to do at the end and perhaps the ending is a me ...more
Mar 14, 2017 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
Gail Klein
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!
One of my favorite books ever!!!!!
Patrick Barry
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An altar boy and a rabbi strike up a friendship in post war Brooklyn, bonding on the Dodgers, the long suffering local team. The neighborhood in the post war years is seeing an emigration to the suburbs and the camaraderie of old is being replaced by less desirable elements, foremost a gang of amoral street toughs. When they brutally attack the rabbi, the boy seeks a way to avenge the rabbi. The rabbi is broken and the boy is small. What resources can they bring to bear against such physically o ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it

oh, how i loved this book. it shows you the good, the bad and the ugly, which is life.

life is unfair, there are horrible people, but we should never forget the kindness of people. it is out there and this story portrays it so well.

i don't usually like 'unrealistic books' with mythicism etc, but it didn't take anything away from this book.

an endearing story ...
Beverley Perez
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Deals with unlikely frienship, racism, bullying and hope.
all done within a completely understandable setting.
Oct 13, 2013 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 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
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
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
Sep 01, 2015 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
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Pete Hamill was 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 ...more

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