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Looking for Me by Betsy R. Rosenthal
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Looking for Me

by Betsy R. Rosenthal

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Good family story based on the experiences of author's mother growing up as one of twelve children in Depression-era Baltimore. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
Written in free verse about the author’s mother, who grew up as the fourth child of twelve in Baltimore during the 1930s, this book explores her challenges of being her own person while getting along with her siblings. ( )
  STBA | Mar 20, 2013 |
This is a story told in verse. It is based on the experiences of Ms. Rosenthal's mother, Edith Paul. The story is about the trials and tribulations of growing up in a large family during the late 1930's. It is difficult to understand your uniqueness when you are the middle child of 12. Edith's narration allows us to see the joys and frustrations of being part of a large family and gives us a glimpse in to our own history. ( )
  asomers | Apr 30, 2012 |
Based on the real stories of her mother and many aunts and uncles, Betsy Rosenthal tells a story in verse of her mother, Edith - the fourth child in a large, Jewish, Depression-era family in Baltimore,

"Family Portrait, Baltimore, 1936

We're lined up:
girl boy, girl boy, girl boy, girl boy, girl boy

and in the middle of us all, Dad,
who ordered us to smile
right before the Brownie clicked,
standing stiff as a soldier
no smile on his face,

and Mom's beside him,
a baby in her arms
and in her rounded belly
another one,

just a trace."

Girl, boy, girl, boy, count them up - twelve children in a row house, sleeping three to a bed, always short of money, new clothes and food. Edith's teacher asks her to write about her family, but she doesn't write about herself. After all, who is she in this great big family? Looking for Me chronicles Edith's quest to find individualism in a time when, seemingly, there was no time for such frivolous thoughts. Rosenthal's poetic style varies from free verse, to concrete to metered rhymes. The subject matter varies as well - following the ups and downs of a year in Edith's life, which, while harsh and disciplined, also held moments of great joy and fun,

"They're Lucky I Found Them

Lenny, Sol, and Jack
said Mom left them sleeping
on the sofa bed,
or so she thought,
and ran to the store.

But after she left,
they started to bounce
and bounce
and bounce some more.

Then the bed closed up

and they were stuck
until I cam home
and changed their luck."

Some poems are heart-wrenching depictions of life as an 11-year-old Jewish girl who has been touched by death, poverty, meanness, bigotry, and indifference. Others are uplifting,

"Floating

I am a bubble
blown full
with Miss Connelly's words,

floating out of the classroom,
bobbing across the grassy lot,
drifting by Levin's Bakery,

letting the breeze carry me to the diner.
"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?"
Dad yells when I come in,
but I just float right by him."

It's always said that it's best to write what you know. This is Betsy Rosenthal's family, and she knows it well. The poignant stories of her mother, aunts, uncles and grandmothers have lived on in her home, and she has done us the very great favor of inviting us in to hear them.

http://www.shelf-employed.blogspot.com ( )
  shelf-employed | Apr 27, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 054761084X, Hardcover)

One of 12 siblings growing up in depression-era Baltimore, Edith isn't quite sure of who she is. Between working at her father’s diner, taking care of her younger siblings, and living in the shadow of her more mature sisters, Edith feels lost in a sea of siblings. When a kind teacher encourages Edith to be a teacher herself one day, Edith sees prospects for a future all her own. Full of joy, pain, humor, and sadness, this novel in verse is a wonderful look at the life of Edith Paul, the author's mother, and is an enduring portrait (complete with family photos and an author's note at the end) of one family's pursuit of the American dream.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:51 -0400)

In 1936 Baltimore, an eleven-year-old Jewish girl, one of twelve siblings, tries to find her place in her overcrowded family.

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