On Herring Cove Road
The Jew and the Goy Boy
Written By: Michael Kroft
Published By: DMD Publishing
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
G-POP.net offers me so many opportunities to expand my reading horizons. I get offers to read the most interesting books – books I may never have even heard of if I weren’t writing reviews for this site. One of those books would be On Herring Cove Road: Mr Jew and the Goy Boy by Michael Kroft.
As the book begins, we are introduced to the Rosens. Mr. Rosen is a World War II veteran and the owner of a number of drugstores in Nova Scotia, Canada. A former extrovert with a reputation for being a prankster, his role as a medic in World War II changed him. For the past thirty years, Avriel Rosen has been an introvert, having moved to Canada from London at his wife’s request. Mrs. Rosen is a woman driven to succeed. She is the business mind behind the drugstore chain and has amassed quite a portfolio of successful stock interests that have served the Rosens in good stead. Her decision to move out of their larger home and into a smaller one on Herring Cove Road was on made from necessity – Ruth Rosen’s health is not what it once was and she is desperate to prepare things for Avriel before she dies.
We are also introduced to Dwight “Dewey” Dixon, a lonely nine-year-old struggling to fit in with the older kids in the neighborhood. Father Paul Dixon is a laborer with an alcohol problem and violent tendencies. Mother Lisa Dixon is a stay at home young mother who wonders how her life became so complicated. Dewey doesn’t know much about his new neighbor except that his father calls them The Jews and doesn’t like them very much.
One fateful day in the mid-1970s, Dewey attempts a bicycle stunt in hopes to prove his worth to the older boys of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, just at the same moment, Mr. Rosen happens to be turning down the very street that Dwight is barreling towards. Car and bike connect and Dewey is finally introduced to his next-door neighbor…and a broken arm, some stitches and scrapes. Though introverted, Avriel can’t help but find a bit of his own self come out when dealing with the boy and the Rosens become friends rather quickly with Lisa and Dewey. Lisa keeps Paul in the dark about the friendship as she is concerned how about what sort of bigoted reaction he might have.
As time progresses, the two families become closer and Avriel finds himself emerging from his shell. His wife suggests that he finally sell the drugstore chain and enter retirement so the two can enjoy what riches the world around them contains. Unfortunately, a tragic event sends both families in a downward spiral, threatening to destroy the relationship between the Rosens and the Dixons and Avriel’s grasp on the good things in life.
The story of On Herring Cove Road: Mr. Jew and the Goy Boy was captivating. Every time I had to put this book down, it was with loathing for whatever menial task – such as work, sleep, etc. – caused me to do so. I loved the interaction between Avriel Rosen and Dewey Dixon – how the little boy made Avriel come out of his shell and the bits of humor that sprinkled their conversations. I also enjoyed the way the author flashed back to explain how the main characters in this novel got to where they were when we meet them. The story is quite believable and I am happy to discover that Mr. Kroft drew on his own knowledge of the area he lived in (Nova Scotia) to lend some accuracy to the locales in the novel. His descriptiveness actually made this book come to life in my mind’s eye.
In fact, the whole story plays out like a movie and I wouldn’t be surprised if, someday in the future, Hallmark or Lifetime doesn’t approach Mr. Kraft regarding adapting the book to movie. This novel is something I can definitely picture adapting well to film, especially on those networks, especially when you consider the various topics this book covers – the atrocities of war, particularly WWII, bigotry and prejudice, domestic violence, aging, the chronic introvert, alcoholism, societal labeling, etc.
My only problem with the book is that it seems the last couple of chapters were somewhat rushed. Things happened very quickly as opposed to other areas in the novel. I wonder why that is? Why not elaborate more regarding the home invasion or some emotions pertaining to this? I don’t want to give anything away here, but I think these sections could have been a bit more elaborate. Other than that, I have no complaints as to how the story turned out at the end.
I was surprised to learn that On Herring Cove Road is actually the first in a series of books. After reading this one, I can’t wait to check out the others. Will they be about Dwight and Avriel or will they feature other members of the community? Only one way to find out and that’s to get my hands on the rest of the series. One thing I know for sure – I definitely want to read more from Michael Kroft.