Kaion's Reviews > Bread Givers: A Novel

Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
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really liked it
bookshelves: teen, feminism, chromatic, modern

I said it before, but it stands repeating: Coming-of-age stories of young women straining against social inequities are important to tell as long as such inequities exist. Bread Givers places this common narrative in the social context of a Jewish immigrant enclave of early 1900s New York City, and stands slightly above the middle of the pack with the intensity with which Anzia Yezierska imbues the novel.

It's said to be heavily autobiographical, and that's easy to believe. There's a palpable hunger in Bread Givers, the hunger of the flesh and the soul. The vividness with which Yezierska depicts such experiences -- the despair at the prospect of no dinner, the pride of having sold a few herring from the bottom of a barrel -- pitches one headlong into her heroine's need for a way out. If the story is pitched at too high of a register to sustain itself, and the heroine's father too much of a caricature of the chauvinistic patriarch, there are more than enough moments of genuine feeling to make up for it. Months after reading Bread Givers, I'm still remembering the grievance of being ladled less at a soup kitchen, the eloquent joy at having a door*. Rating: 3.5 stars

*Yeah, take that, Virginia Woolf.
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Reading Progress

September 13, 2011 – Shelved
Started Reading
September 20, 2011 – Finished Reading
April 24, 2012 – Shelved as: teen
April 25, 2012 – Shelved as: feminism
September 1, 2014 – Shelved as: chromatic
September 1, 2014 – Shelved as: modern

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