Book - 2012
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"A mesmerizing, heartbreaking graphic novel of immigrant life on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically and tragically different paths. For six-year-old Esther and Fanya, the teeming streets of New York's Lower East Side circa 1910 are both a fascinating playground and a place where life's lessons are learned quickly and often cruelly. In drawings that capture both the tumult and the telling details of that street life, Unterzakhn (Yiddish for 'Underthings') tells the story of these sisters: as wide-eyed little girls absorbing the sights and sounds of a neighborhood of struggling immigrants; as teenagers taking their own tentative steps into the wider world (Esther working for a woman who runs both a burlesque theater and a whorehouse, Fanya for an obstetrician who also performs illegal abortions); and, finally, as adults battling for their own piece of the 'golden land,' where the difference between just barely surviving and triumphantly succeeding involves, for each of them, painful decisions that will have unavoidably tragic repercussions" -- fromp ublisher's web site.
Publisher: New York : Schocken Books, 2012.
ISBN: 9780805242591
Characteristics: 203 p. :,chiefly ill. ;,24 cm.


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FW_librarian Aug 16, 2016

The rawness of life in early 20th century New York for Jewish immigrants is evident with the absence of choice for twin sisters who are pulled toward polar-opposite directions. The strong black ink illustrations drive an inevitable tragic story that I found extremely hard to put down. Excellent historical fiction story line and powerful illustrations.

May 08, 2016

I read this very quickly as it was hard to put down. It was an enjoyable read. This book has its tragic moments and Leela Corman does an excellent job creating an emotional connection to the characters.

Apr 30, 2013

Corman's absorbing book follows the lives of twin sisters Esther and Fanya, the children of Russian Jews, on the teeming streets of New York's Lower East Side. Beginning in 1909 when the six-year-old girls work alongside their seamstress mother, the tale follows each of their divergent lives. The young Fanya attracts the attention of the "lady-doctor" Bronia, who performs illegal abortions. Bronia teaches her how to read and mentors Fanya in the medical arts. Corman's evocative portrayal of health care for women in those pre-Roe v. Wade days effectively showcases why abortion must remain legal. Esther finds paying work for a woman who runs a burlesque theater and a whorehouse. While there, she learns about and eventually relies on her sexuality to find her place in society. Unterzakhn (Yiddish for "Underthings") follows the twins throughout their lives, chronicling their loves, successes, failures, and losses, while exploring the roles -- sexual, intellectual, familial -- of women. Corman produces an exceptional portrayal, deserving of much laudatory praise and acclaim, of immigrant and Jewish life on par with the works of Will Eisner and Art Spiegelman.

Feb 16, 2013

Beautiful stunning artwork and moving story. Loved it!

LittleLady2011 Apr 26, 2012

I just finished reading this and I loved it. How writes like this? Leela Corman, that's who! A story of two sisters growing up in lower Manhattan, which deals with family secrets, migration, prostitution, etc...

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MrsIcarusPain May 07, 2012

MrsIcarusPain thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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