The Tin Horse: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In the stunning tradition of Lisa See, Maeve Binchy, and Alice Hoffman, The Tin Horse is a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bond sisters share and the dreams and sorrows that lay at the heart of the immigrant experience.
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 very selves.
Advance praise for The Tin Horse
“Steinberg, the author of five mysteries, has transcended genre to weave a rich story that will appeal to readers who appreciate multigenerational immigrant family sagas as well as those who simply enjoy psychological suspense.”—BookPage
“Steinberg . . . has crafted a novel rich in faith, betrayal, and secrecy that explores the numerous ways people are shaped and haunted by their past. . . . A sweeping family saga reminiscent of the writing of Pat Conroy, where family secrets and flashbacks combine to create an engrossing tale of growth and loss. Highly recommended for fans of family drama and historical fiction.”—Library Journal
“Steinberg’s quietly suspenseful novel is compelling by virtue of her sympathetic characters, vivid depiction of WWII-era Los Angeles, and pinpoint illuminations of poverty, anti-Semitism, family bonds and betrayals, and the crushing obstacles facing women seeking full and fulfilling lives.”—Booklist
that Barbara had eagerly, happily, severed everything that connected her to us. To me. It made me feel blotted out of existence. Not just who I was now, but the dual identity I’d had from the moment of my birth seventeen minutes after hers: Barbara-and-Elaine, “we.” “Where are you going to look next?” I asked, my eyes daring him to suggest giving up the search. “I think I’ll go get chummy with a few chorus girls. Chorus girls seem to appreciate my charm.” He gave me such a woeful grin, I had to
mementos of Audrey to give to her kids, Boyle Heights items for the Jewish Historical Society, Papa’s poetry books for Carol. I hesitate over the book by Andrew Boyle’s grandson. I’ll give it to the Jewish Historical Society, but do I want to read it first? Funny how I insisted to Harriet that the father never turned up. The story I heard when I was so young, the children’s plight so poignant that it had the truth of lived experience. I wonder what else I’ve been dead wrong about. I drop the
fiercely. And for a moment I glimpsed my family through the crowd as if I didn’t know them. Mama was wearing the “smart suit” she’d had made for our first day of school, now seven years out of style and straining at the shoulders as she held Harriet. Papa and Uncle Leo were shorter and darker than most of the men in the airport, and although there were a few other young children present, only Audrey was squatting by the fence; somebody should make her stand up. And there was the sheer bulk of
argue about Zionism? I was hardly going to ask. I rarely talked about Danny with Barbara, or Barbara with him. Dangerous territory. As it proved this time. “Is that why you’re going? Because it’s important to Danny?” She gave me a mocking smile, and I felt ripped open, my impossible love for Danny Berlov naked and pathetic like a newborn bird fallen from its nest. Did she know? Danny would never have told her; some other boy, a boy who was compulsively honest, might have felt a need to confess,
offered him a room in an apartment in San Pedro. Mama fretted that she hadn’t made her nephew feel at home, and what would her brothers and sisters say? On the other hand, wasn’t the point of sponsoring Ivan that he should become able to make his own way, and who would have believed it would happen so quickly? That was America! Mama made him promise to come for every holiday, and he departed with kisses all around—even one from Barbara, who was thrilled to get rid of him and regain our two-sister