A World Full of Strangers

Posted:  Nov. 14, 2013

A World Full of Strangers by Cynthia Freeman  Bestselling author Cynthia Freeman’s blockbuster first novel: The tempestuous story of a family whose destiny is shaped by a man who turns his back on his Jewish heritage in order to build a prosperous life in post–World War II America

Katie Kovitz is seventeen when she arrives in New York harbor in the bleak winter of 1932. On the city’s Lower East Side, she meets David Rezinetsky. Cursed with the stigma of poverty, David is on a quest to find love and acceptance.

From the ghettos of New York to the golden hills of San Francisco, Cynthia Freeman tells the story of a family: Katie, who must rely on the kindness of strangers in a strange land, yet never forgets her roots; David, who turns his back on his heritage to find his way in a world that treats him like a pariah; Mark, who embraces everything his father has rejected; and Maggie Kent, who completes David’s transformation, setting in motion a series of events that will affect the lives of this American family for years to come.


This story was about a woman who leaves Poland with her mother and moves to England to live with her uncle. After 12 yrs. Her mother passes away and she knows she needs to move to the U.S. with a family friend. The uncles’ wife does not like her or the uncle.

     Once she moves to America, everything is different for her. She has gone from being highly educated, living in a mansion or bigger than one. Going to concerts, balls and many other things. To now living in a Jewish ghetto in New York. She finds it hard to make friends so she stops. Until one day the daughter of the family she is living with has her boyfriend introduce her to a boy in the neighborhood who does not have to many friends but likes the same type of classical music and other things like she does. He is just trying to find a way out of the neighborhood.

     After a short time they decide to marry, and though it is a struggle she is happy. He is happy as well, but this was during the 1930’s and the war in Europe was beginning and there was a prejudiced against Jews in this country at that time as well. Her husband was feeling this more and more each day until one day. After waiting to see a man for 5 hours and told to come another day. He heard what they said about Jews after he closed the door, he went back inside and punched the man and then left. He decided on his way home he would tell his wife that his new plan was to move to a new city and to change their last name. Not to be Jewish any more.

     This did not go well for her by this time they had a little boy and for her being Jewish was all she knew. She finally gave in and that night went to a family dinner, he made the announcement at this time and it shocked the entire family and his father told him he was dead to him. They moved to Chicago, but it did not go well for them there. They argued a lot and he still could not find consistent work. She left with the baby back to New York, once there she found out about the family through a sister in law. Knowing this was all gone for her she was alone on the streets with her baby.

     Then a man, a street peddler remembers her from when she lived there and took them in. She was in shock at all of the books, records and many other things he had. She and her son lived there for two years until the man and the boy got sick one night. After having to put them in the hospital the man died after a couple of days. She found a way to get word to her husband in Chicago that there boy was sick. He showed up and after a few days the boy got better and then she told him about everything with his family. She goes back to the place where the man lived and she found a box with a letter to her and some money. He thought of her as his granddaughter.

     They took the money and moved to San Francisco. There they start over again this time he gets into real estate still not using his real name and with the help of some people after 5 years is starting to make a lot of money. But he’s also showing a real mean angry side of himself and takes it out on his wife. After a few more years they move to a higher-class place one outside of the city. He still has a meanness towards his wife and anyone who finds out that he is Jewish.

     When their son is in high school he tells him not to be friends with his best friend anymore. The son is confused, talks to the other boy and they work it out.  Now the husband starts an affair that goes on for almost three years. When at a party one night the wife figures it out. He asks for a divorce and she says no. This is now the early fifties he moves back home to try to finally have a relationship with the son, but then the son goes to U.C.L.A. for college.

     After a few months needing help in math he goes over to an others students home for dinner and is full of questions because of the food, the way they talk to each other.  But something about the mother reminds him of his mother.  He starts dating his friends’ sister who goes to U.C.L.A. also. After Christmas they are living together part time but are wanting to get married. She wants him to talk to his parents because she does not want to be the reason they don’t speak again and not to be able to be in their home. When he gets home he has it out with his farther. Later that night his mother comes in and tells him don’t leave in the morning before I talk to you. She is finally going to tell him.

     The next morning he goes up stairs to the attic and a box falls down that his mother has been carrying around since Poland. He goes into his mother’s room and she tells him everything. He says he sorry she stayed because of him. He leaves calls his girlfriend to say we can get married in the Temple. And then puts an ad in the paper changing his name back to his Jewish name. A fantastic story with a lot of drama. I really enjoyed it!  Provided by Netgalley.com

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