Sarah turns twenty-one in FOREIGN GIRLS. It's 1930, and America is on the cusp of the depression. Throughout the book, she receives letters from and sends letters to friends and family who are far away. Fascism and the threat of another world war suggest the horrors yet to come.
Aunt Sarah had a head for numbers. I don’t know much about her life in the thirties and forties, except that she was a successful buyer at Lazarus Department Store in downtown Columbus (pictured), a job for which someone with a sunny disposition like hers seemed well suited.
In FOREIGN GIRLS, Sarah is completing bookkeeping training and working in accounting at Reuven Brothers Department Store. Meanwhile, her mother manages to hold onto the grocery store she finally acquired with the money from her divorce from Sarah's father.
Widowed and broke, Papa abandons the stepdaughter adopted from his second family on the doorstep of his first family. Read this chapter, "Another Mouth," in THE ROARING 20s: A DECADE OF STORIES. Sarah falls in love with the wrong boy and helps a friend through a traumatic abortion. Her older sister secretly marries a Catholic, unthinkable for an Orthodox Jewish woman in the 1930's, and Sarah is caught in the middle of the battle that follows. Bad news arrives from Europe. Hitler is on the rise. Sarah’s dear friend lives in Berlin under the threat of growing anti-Semitism. Hers is one of several letters throughout the book that pose a new set of challenges for Sarah.
At the end of this most important year, Sarah ventures even further from home to become a foreign girl once again.