Larry C. Kerpelman
Pratt Brook Communication, LLC (2017)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (4/18)
In “Concrete Steps: Coming of Age in a Once-Big City,” author Larry C. Kerpelman takes us back to his old neighborhood in Baltimore during the 1940s-1950s, when life was simpler, and family values were respected. Kerpelman and his family were immigrant Jews who lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. His mother was the driving force in the family and having high expectations for her children, had no problems choosing Larry’s future goals for him. His family did not come from a privileged family, but they were rich in love.
During those years of growing up the author relates he and his family encountered anti-Semites such as the Frances Streeters, who would taunt and threaten he and his friends. Amazingly he was often able to escape their racial slurs and found that he didn’t understand how humans could have so much hatred for others.
I liked that Kerpelman stated in the beginning of his book that during that era things were not as politically correct as they are today, and therefore he wrote with the intent of trying to provide the most realistic view, which might make some readers squeamish. Throughout this reading, Kerpelman uses Hebrew words he learned as a child, and not the modern-day vocabulary. Readers will see that this read is steep in Jewish tradition, but he also shows how he was exposed to every culture and experience possible.
I found this book interesting, but parts could be a bit tedious. I felt the author did a good job of describing living conditions, coming of age, and racism, but when he talked about his sex life or attempt at it I mentally left the reading. If you read about the author today, you will see that despite all he encountered he is a very successful, open-minded professional. Readers who enjoy historical facts during this era will enjoy the descriptive writing and humor. For those of us who grew up in this time frame, it will bring back a lot of memories.
Overall, “Concrete Steps: Coming of Age in a Once-Big City,” by Larry C. Kerpelman was enjoyable, provided humor, history, and questions we all ask when coming of age.