Synopses & Reviews
In the stunning tradition of Lisa See, Maeve Binchy, and Alice Hoffman, The Tin Horse is a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bond sisters share and the dreams and sorrows that lay at the heart of the immigrant experience.
It has been more than sixty years since Elaine Greenstein’s twin sister, Barbara, ran away, cutting off contact with her family forever. Elaine has made peace with that loss. But while sifting through old papers as she prepares to move to Rancho Mañana—or the “Ranch of No Tomorrow” as she refers to the retirement community—she is stunned to find a possible hint to Barbara’s whereabouts all these years later. And it pushes her to confront the fierce love and bitter rivalry of their youth during the 1920s and ’30s, in the Los Angeles Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
Though raised together in Boyle Heights, where kosher delis and storefront signs in Yiddish lined the streets, Elaine and Barbara staked out very different personal territories. Elaine was thoughtful and studious, encouraged to dream of going to college, while Barbara was a bold rule-breaker whose hopes fastened on nearby Hollywood. In the fall of 1939, when the girls were eighteen, Barbara’s recklessness took an alarming turn. Leaving only a cryptic note, she disappeared.
In an unforgettable voice layered with humor and insight, Elaine delves into the past. She recalls growing up with her spirited family: her luftmensch of a grandfather, a former tinsmith with tales from the Old Country; her papa, who preaches the American Dream even as it eludes him; her mercurial mother, whose secret grief colors her moods—and of course audacious Barbara and their younger sisters, Audrey and Harriet. As Elaine looks back on the momentous events of history and on the personal dramas of the Greenstein clan, she must finally face the truth of her own childhood, and that of the twin sister she once knew.
In The Tin Horse, Janice Steinberg exquisitely unfolds a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bonds between sisters, mothers, and daughters and the profound and surprising ways we are shaped by those we love. At its core, it is a book not only about the stories we tell but, more important, those we believe, especially the ones about our very selves.
Advance praise for The Tin Horse
“Steinberg, the author of five mysteries, has transcended genre to weave a rich story that will appeal to readers who appreciate multigenerational immigrant family sagas as well as those who simply enjoy psychological suspense.”—BookPage
“Steinberg . . . has crafted a novel rich in faith, betrayal, and secrecy that explores the numerous ways people are shaped and haunted by their past. . . . A sweeping family saga reminiscent of the writing of Pat Conroy, where family secrets and flashbacks combine to create an engrossing tale of growth and loss. Highly recommended for fans of family drama and historical fiction.”—Library Journal
“Steinberg’s quietly suspenseful novel is compelling by virtue of her sympathetic characters, vivid depiction of WWII-era Los Angeles, and pinpoint illuminations of poverty, anti-Semitism, family bonds and betrayals, and the crushing obstacles facing women seeking full and fulfilling lives.”—Booklist
"When Elaine Greenstein stumbles on an old business card in her mother's papers, she wonders if it might be the key to finding her twin sister, Barbara, who disappeared at the age of 18. But this pleasantly sturdy drama is not in any hurry to solve the mystery. Even-keeled despite a tumultuous narrative, the book slides back to Elaine's formative years and progresses in stately fashion. The scene is early-20th-century Boyle Heights, a diverse Los Angeles neighborhood where the Greensteins and their Jewish neighbors have formed a thriving community. Elaine explores their struggles as a young girl, the immigration experiences of her mother and grandfather, her free-spirited aunt's attempts to live on her own terms, and her cousin's courageous union organizing. Steinberg's (Death in a City of Mystics) careful and satisfying characterizations extend to neighbors and friends as well, creating a vibrant portrait of community. Moving alongside these personal stories are larger historical forces, notably the Depression and, as Elaine enters her turbulent teenage years, the looming threat of war. Elaine's relationship with her sister, complicated by a messy love triangle, comes to a head amid global upheaval. Nearly 70 years later, as she remembers and reexamines her past, Elaine hopes that buried wounds might finally be healed if she can only find her twin sister. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Janice Steinberg is an award-winning arts journalist who has published more than four hundred articles in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Dance Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She is also the author of five mystery novels, including the Shamus Award–nominated Death in a City of Mystics. She has taught fiction writing at the University of California, San Diego, and dance criticism at San Diego State University. A native of Wisconsin, she received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of California, Irvine. She holds a blue belt in the Nia dance-fitness practice and teaches weekly classes. She lives in San Diego with her husband.