Bread Givers (Kobo eBook)
First published in 1925, Anzia Yezierska’s “Bread Givers” is the tale of a young Jewish-American immigrant woman and her struggle to control her own destiny in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at the turn of the century. The novel is based in large part on Yezierska’s own life experiences immigrating from Poland as a child and growing up in New York City in an Orthodox Jewish family. “Bread Givers” centers on the story of its main character, Sara Smolinsky, who lives with her older sisters and parents in a poor tenement in the Lower East Side. The Smolinsky family is destitute and struggles to make ends meet as the father, Reb, refuses to work and spends all his time studying the Torah and clinging to the traditions of the country he left behind. He arranges unhappy marriages for his older daughters in the hope of becoming rich himself. Sara vows to avoid her sisters’ fates and takes her life into her own hands, pursuing an education and refusing to marry just because it is expected of her. “Bread Givers” is both an engaging portrait of New York at the beginning of the twentieth-century and a timeless tale of a young woman’s journey of self-discovery and determination.