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Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn Hardcover – October 8, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Likable 13-year-old narrator Judy Strand describes life in a Norwegian community in 1944 Brooklyn in this disjointed first novel. In the first chapter, the strange behavior of Jacob Jacobsen, son of the neighborhood drunk, triggers Judy's thoughts about her own recently discovered secret: she is adopted, and she had a baby sister who died. In the process of uncovering the facts about her real father, who is also an alcoholic, and in sorting through her feelings, Judy withdraws from her mother and adoptive father and grows closer to Jacob. Unfortunately, many themes are introduced and then dropped: early on, Judy says of her best friend, Annette, for instance, "There was something different about us-deep down where you couldn't see," yet the narrative never plumbs these differences. Jacob joins Judy's family for a summer vacation during which they become romantically involved, yet, back in Brooklyn, a rift abruptly develops between them, and readers get only a glimpse of the cause. The author packs a lot into this ambitious novel, but the plot lines wind up competing with one another. The narrator's often detached voice distances readers from the events, too. At one point Judy mentions how much she likes her youth group leader, "but I never let on about what was really happening inside me." The audience may well feel the same way. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8-A fresh, engaging novel set during World War II in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, then an enclave for Norwegian immigrants. Judy, 13, uncovers an unsettling secret about her past as she sorts through some old family papers: the man she has called "Pa" all these years is actually her adoptive father. Her mother explains that her biological father was an alcoholic who abandoned the family in Norway, and that she had a baby sister who died of pneumonia on the boat trip to America. Stunned and confused, Judy feels betrayed by her mother and awkward around the man she has always considered her father. Being around Jacob Jacobsen, who is sweet on her, only makes things worse as Jacob's dad, another alcoholic, is a constant reminder of the painful past. When his mother requests that he accompany Judy and her family to the Catskills to keep him away from some neighborhood bullies, the protagonist is initially resentful, but by summer's end, the two teens develop a romantic attachment. Readers get a glimpse into Norwegian-American culture along with some realities of life on the home front: yellow and blue stars in front windows, food rationing, older brothers lost in battle, older sisters working to support the war effort, and, finally, when the Japanese surrender, dancing in the streets. Lurie beautifully captures an adolescent's voice and concerns as well as a nostalgic Brooklyn childhood filled with stickball, candy stores, and trips to Coney Island.
Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1St Edition edition (October 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385729421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385729420
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,888,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I now live in Austin with my husband and four kids. Yes, four. Crazy, I know. I went to Hunter College in Manhattan, and worked several years as a NICU nurse. I began writing for teens in my mid- thirties and have been doing it ever since. It's the best job in the world.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ms. A+ on October 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn" is a warm, beautiful story with authentic characters that have remained in my memory. Lurie avoids melodrama to tell Judy's story with sincerity and compassion. The author's roots in Bay Ridge give the book an authenticity that's refreshing. Not your typical wartime book, "Dancing" shows that while the years were difficult, they were innocent as well. Readers easily feel Judy's joys and sorrows as she comes to terms with the secrets of her past.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful story for all ages to read. This is one of those that you don't want to put down. It brings you into the life of the characters. The writer has the capability to bring the reader to a place that you have never been. Written during the close of WWII the story shares the economical and emotional crisis that families endured. It also shares quite a bit about the Norwegian traditions. Fantastic! Thanks for the experience that it brought me.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It's "supposed" to take place during World War II, but it doesn't sound perfectly authentic (females getting to play in competitive sports, kids going to the pool, and "going out for pizza", huh?)

The protagonist here is a young girl of Norwegian descent (mm, that's something new) who is tottering on the brink of sexual development (so she will one day help produce the next generation, of course.) The poor dear has to come to terms with her flawless, dreamy tugboating Prince Charming of a father (Electra Complex, anyone?) not being her real, biological dad and her real biological dad drinking himself stinky before disappearing like magic. If that's not all, she also has a mysterious infant sister who had croaked a long ago and a cocky young "bad boy" is coming on to her pretty strong, too. Being a smooth operator, Jacob finally gets his chance when he suddenly smooches innocent young Judy at the gorgeous, secluded area with frothy waterfalls and shimmering rainbows (Wow. Judy's folks not only brought the punk along camping with the family right after one of his skirmishes with the street urchins; Judy COULD have gone home with a very special souvenir that wriggles, poops, and cries for its mother's milk!)

Then Jacob suddenly grows sullen and aloof after being hit by the double whammy of a pal's father being killed in the war and his dear old mother suddenly dying of illness.

(Intermission, children and here are your Kleenex tissues, too. Just turn off your waterworks before you drench yourself.
Read more ›
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A Kid's Review on February 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dancing in the streets of Brooklyn by April Lurie is based on some true events. A little piece of information I thought was interesting is that April Lurie grew up in Brooklyn, New York along with her character Judy.

Fourteen-year-old Judy Strand is the main character in this book. When Judy was younger, her father abandoned her and her mother. Judy's mom, knowing she would be the sole provider for her family, she set out for America for more opportunity. Before they started their journey, Mrs. Strand had two children, one of which died of pneumonia on their way to America. Judy had no idea that she had a younger sister until, nosing around in her mom's closet.There, she found a photo of a little girl and a birth certificate for an anonymous person. When Judy finally got the guts to ask her mom who this girl was, her mom started to weep uncontrollably. I'm not going to let out the secret of why she was crying..... You'll need to read this book and figure out for yourself the "Big Secret".

Lurie has a great talent for word choice. She is so descriptive; I had a visual of what was going on in the story at all times. Here is a great example; "I awoke to loud voices mixed with aroma of fish balls and creamed cabbage. Ma was fretting like she did when she burned something." You're probably wondering why she was fretting, but I can't give away the whole thing!!

I think this is a great book for ages 9 to 12 both boys and girls as it has many concurrent story lines. This is a very dramatic book for active readers. Why don't you read it and see for yourself. Have a great time reading!
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By A Customer on December 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Wow this is the best new author I have read in a long time. I read the entire book in one sitting because I could not put it down. The characters were so realistic and I felt like I could relate to each of them in one way or another. I recommend Dancing in the Streets of Brooklyn to anyone looking for an exciting novel to read over the holidays.
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