Tuesday, June 12, 2007
From the Dough Boys
From a little known piece of American history, Michael Lowenthal has crafted a heartbreaking, yet inspiring story of love betrayed and courage discovered. Frieda is just another working Jewish girl in New York City during World War I. She is a bundle wrapper at Jordan march in ladies' undergarments and very happy with her job and her life. She and her Friend, Lou visit the weekly dances with soldiers and are popular dance partners. One evening Frieda meets a handsome young dough boy and impulsively spends the evening with him. Weeks later she is visited by a stern woman who accuses Frieda of giving the soldier a venereal disease. Frieda is sent to a medical institution where she is quarantined with other "fallen women" who has passed diseases onto soldiers. She is a Charity Girl, accused of unpatriotic behavior and must be rehabilitated before being let out into society again. The fellow inmates and one sympathetic social worker are the only support system Frieda has as she faces numerous indignities in the detention center. Fans of One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus will appreciate the same strong central female character and the straightforward tone. This little known historical period and the brutally unfair treatment of teenage girls will pique interest among readers of American historical fiction. Readers will also rally around Frieda and her feisty, but not anachronistic, attitude toward the medical sciences and her own future. Very readable and entertaining. Characters are like able and believable; plot is swift; enough historic detail to create a strong sense of time, place and social tone, but not too much to slow down the story. A satisfactory ending should please all readers.