Q&A with Jennifer S. Brown, author of Modern Girls
Modern Girls is a well-researched and thought-provoking debut novel by Jennifer S. Brown. It is a portrayal of three women who attempt to balance traditional Old World values with “modern” American views. (The book at Amazon and on Kindle.)
Elise Cooper: Did you do a lot of research for this book?
Jennifer S. Brown: Yes. I grew up in a family of secular Jews. I chose the immigrants to be Jewish because it is what I know, but other ethnicities could have been substituted. The immigrant experience and values are pretty universal. I hope readers can learn about the Jewish culture, their food, superstitions, Yiddish phrases, and traditions. While doing the research I discovered fascinating details that I wanted to include, but actually had to take some out, because I over loaded the plot. I readWorld Of Our Fathers and many more books. I watched movies and read magazines from the time period to see how they spoke and what they wore.
EC: Do you speak Yiddish because there were a lot of Yiddish words and sayings?
JB: No, in some ways I felt at a disadvantage. I did find a socialist newspaper printed in English from the 1930s about New York culture. In reading it I got a sense of what people might have cared about in those days. I also was able to ask family members what Yiddish word would be used in a certain circumstance.
EC: Can you describe Camp Eden?
JB: It was a Socialist summer camp for young adults that became popular in the 1920s. Different Jewish labor organizations developed these camps. The one I describe in Modern Girls is an amalgamation of a number of different Jewish socialist camps. My own grandparents, who were not Socialists, met each other there. Some Jews just went because there was not many places a Jew could go on vacation, and they wanted to get out of the city. BTW: The child Eugene was named after Eugene Debs.
EC: Why do you think women who get an abortion in that time period?
JB: Actually the abortion rates were quite high. If a woman needed a job to support her family she could not get married. People did not want to employ married women, fearing they would get pregnant and be less productive. For those who were married, many had an abortion for financial reasons, unable to support another child.
To read the rest of the Q/A go to this website: http://www.workingmother.com/modern-girls