Eyes of Emerald by Harvey Stelman and Andy Nathan
Eyes of Emerald
Eyes of Emerald is a romantic story of the coming of age of Esther Rothstein, a beautiful young girl whose Jewish parents and grandmother emigrated from Russia in the 1920s or 30s. It’s based on a family story passed on by his father to author Harvey Stelman. It’s a heartwarming coming-of-age tale of assimilation issues involving diet, dating, romance and marriage faced by the children of many immigrants to the American melting pot.
The story begins with Esther Rothstein’s 1933 Seward Park High School graduation ceremony in Manhattan where Esther had been elected prom queen. Improbably, according to the story, the ceremony was rudely interrupted by two troublemaker boys throwing tomatoes at the principal, Miss Caulfield, from the balcony of the auditorium. The culprits were quickly apprehended, their names recorded, and escorted out of the hall. The day after her graduation Esther finds a secretarial job at Finkelbaum’s Textiles where her best friend Rebecca Feingold had been working for a year. Soon Esther has her first non-kosher meal at The House of Chang, a local Chinese restaurant where she was taken by her friend, Rebecca. Rebecca introduced Esther to the handsome, young proprietor, Sammy Chang.
Esther quickly fell for Sammy and he for her. After several more lunches with Rebecca at the House of Chang, Sammy asks her out, forcing Esther to face the issue of what she was sure would be an unfavorable reaction from her family if she were to date someone who was not Jewish. After being fixed up with a blind date with a local Jewish boy who turned out to be a total dud, and another unsuccessful date with a handsome son of the Rabbi who invited her to a bar mitzvah as a beard to hide the fact that he was secretly dating an Irish Catholic girl, Esther succumbs to Sammy Chang’s persistent invitations. Not long after, Sammy is summoned by his father to return to China to take charge of a military campaign in the battle between Chang Kai Chek and Maoist guerillas who were threatening to take over the province where Sammy’s father was governor. After failing to persuade Esther to come with him, he kidnaps her and takes her with him aboard a boat heading from New York to China. The story goes on from there until an improbable ending which you’ll have to read the book to discover.
The book is a fast read which held my interest from beginning
to end.Highly recommended. Great job, Harvey!