It has been more than sixty years since Elaine Greenstein’s
twin sister, Barbara, ran away, cutting off contact with her family forever.
Elaine has made peace with that loss. But while sifting through old papers as
she prepares to move to Rancho Mañana, or the “Ranch of No Tomorrow” as she
refers to the retirement community, she is stunned to find a possible hint to
Barbara’s whereabouts all these years later. And it pushes her to confront the
fierce love and bitter rivalry of their youth during the 1920s and ’30s, in the
Los Angeles Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
Though raised together in Boyle Heights, where kosher delis
and storefront signs in Yiddish lined the streets, Elaine and Barbara staked
out very different personal territories. Elaine was thoughtful and studious,
encouraged to dream of going to college, while Barbara was a bold rule-breaker
whose hopes fastened on nearby Hollywood. In the fall of 1939, when the girls
were eighteen, Barbara’s recklessness took an alarming turn. Leaving only a
cryptic note, she disappeared.
In an unforgettable voice layered with humor and insight,
Elaine delves into the past. She recalls growing up with her spirited family:
her luftmensch of a grandfather, a former tinsmith with tales from the
Old Country; her papa, who preaches the American Dream even as it eludes him;
her mercurial mother, whose secret grief colors her moods, and of course
audacious Barbara and their younger sisters, Audrey and Harriet. As Elaine
looks back on the momentous events of history and on the personal dramas of the
Greenstein clan, she must finally face the truth of her own childhood, and that
of the twin sister she once knew.
In The Tin Horse, Janice Steinberg exquisitely unfolds
a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bonds between
sisters, mothers, and daughters and the profound and surprising ways we are
shaped by those we love. At its core, it is a book not only about the stories
we tell but, more important, those we believe, especially the ones about our
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