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The Peddler's Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in…
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The Peddler's Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi

by Edward Cohen

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This memoir is sub-titled "Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi", which is pretty much all you need to know about it, except that the writing it good, and the author is a 3rd generation Mississippian. His struggle to reconcile his Southern roots with his Jewish heritage makes fascinating reading, especially since he lived through a lot of rugged history growing up in Jackson, MS, where his family operated a clothing store with a primarily black clientele. Since the Jewish community there was so small, assimilation was the norm, and orthodoxy rare, but the conflict was never far from Edward's awareness, even as a child. It's a fascinating examination of identity, loyalty, integrity and belonging.
Review written in March 2016 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Jul 24, 2016 |
Although the title of this memoir describes its content, it belies the real universality of its themes. Cohen presents a boy learning about the unwritten rules of social norms outside his family and the struggles he has with where he belongs--in the community and larger world. Of course, we all must do this as we grow. In this case, the author is in a religious minority and a racial majority during a place and time that is going through tumultuous social change. His is both a sociological and a personal study, told with wisdom, humor and sensitivity. The ending felt a little trite to me, which is why I only gave it 4 stars. Overall, however, a very good read and much material for discussion and consideration. ( )
1 vote lansum | Jan 26, 2015 |
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For Kathy, wife, editor, best friend.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385335911, Paperback)

Edward Cohen was among the tiny minority of Jews in Jackson, Mississippi, the heart of the Bible Belt. As a child, he grew up singing “Dixie”in his segregated school and saying sh’ma in synagogue. And in his powerful, luminous memoir, Cohen tells a story as universal as it is particular, at once a deeply personal account of growing up an outsider and a vibrant family story of three generations of American Jews.

To Edward Cohen, it seemed the entire world was Jewish. Then he went to school, where he was the only child who didn’t bow his head during Christian prayers, the only child not invited to dance class.

As the polite ‘50s segued into the racially explosive ‘60s, Jackson, Mississippi, would never be the same. And Edward would escape to the University of Miami in search of a new identity.

There, he thought he would find other Jews and finally gain the acceptance he never had. But once again he found himself an outsider — this time as a southerner.

A stirring memoir for anyone who’s ever felt a loss of identity or pressure to conform, The Peddler’s Grandson is sure to touch readers everywhere who have grappled with who they are.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:02 -0400)

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