Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rich Boy

by Sharon Pomerantz
Hatchette Book Group
August 2010
ISBN: 978-0-446-56318-5
528 pages

There will also be the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the world. There seem to be those people who even though they were not born into a wealthy family appear to be destined for better things.

Robert Vishniak was born into a middle class Jewish family in Philadelphia after World War II. His father was employed as a mailman with his mother, naturally, being a stay-at-home to care for the family. It took a few years but finally the family of four found their own house and being that they lived in a large city, they had no need to own an automobile.

By going away to college, Robert discovers that his roommate is from a wealthy family that has multiple homes and cars. Being naturally handsome, he discovers that it is easy for him to develop the friendship with his roommate and the circle of wealth that surrounds him and exposes Robert to a world that he never knew existed.

RICH BOY is the saga of Robert and his family through the changes of American culture in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Their reactions, adapting, and attempts to further their lives with the challenges of the times including the draft, drugs, sexuality, the real estate boom, and the stock market and commodities trading, greatly influenced this family.

RICH BOY is the showing of differences between the middle class of the 1950s and the changes in personal wealth and education during that time period. It was common in the 50s and 60s for a family to have the father in a civil service job with one income and the mom staying at home to raise the children and economize by saving green stamps.

Robert’s natural gifts of ambition, intelligence, and looks gave him advantages. His friendships with the ultra-wealthy were the perfect mix for his success. The main problem he had was the feeling of not belonging with his job, his family, his sexual partners, and his friends.

The vulnerability of Robert’s first love and that of his daughter, contrasted the public vision of him. Also, his awkward relationship with his mother made this memorable. This contrast of his daily relationships is what made this story forceful and realistic.

RICH BOY is Sharon Pomerantz’s debut novel that took ten years to write. She has won various awards for writing short pieces and teaches at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

This is one book that becomes an inner part of your thoughts and you don’t want it to end. The experience of reading RICH BOY is truly memorable, thought-provoking, and moving. I hope that it doesn’t take another ten-years for the Sharon Pomerantz’s next novel.

Teri Davis September 19, 2010

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