Beim, Norman. “A Not-So-Nice Jewish Boy Faces World War II”, New Concept Press, 2013.
If the title does not catch your eye, what is written in this book will. Norman Beim is an author and playwright who writes basically about modern Jewish history. My introduction to him came with this memoir and I must admit that I have missed out on his other writing but that can be corrected easily enough and I do plan to catch up. Beim is the first-born son of a Jewish family that came to America as immigrants. Here he takes us through his life and we read of his adolescence and his experiences as a soldier in World War II. Beginning with his family in Europe, he writes with honesty and candor about the uncertainties he felt while growing up Jewish in America and unless you have had similar experiences, there is a lot to be learned here. I recognized so much about my own life here with the difference being that I grew up in the South.
This is quite a lengthy read but I must say that I was never bored as I read the 500 plus pages. Beim actually begins his story before he was born and we are introduces to earlier Beim family members. His ancestors were Polish and we get the family background on European soil. However what I enjoyed reading about the most were his college years and then adventures during and after the War. With his return home, the book ends and we are not taken into the present day and we do learn about his success and a writer. Maybe he is planning another book to pick up where this one stops. In order to read a book of this length, the writer must know that his prose is well written and interesting enough to make us want to continue reading. The world of Jewish memoir is not new to me so if I am not immediately drawn in, then I find it hard to continue. This was not the case here and I was taken into Beim’s life in the first chapter.