A CAPE MAY DIAMOND: MY REVIEW


A Cape May Diamond

Larry Enright

 

Life brings you many choices and decisions to make along the way. Some more difficult than others as on young man found out. Tom Ryan always thought that he was as the author relates to the reader The King. Tom Ryan always thought that he could do and say as he pleased and the consequences would never be born by him. When Tom is called up to serve for his country he has no choice but to rise to the call. But, fate plays him a lucky and fortunate hand and his young brother Harry devises what he thinks if a foolproof plan to help Tom out but what happens is more than just a turn of twisted fate. Just when Tom is about to graduate college as Harry and Harry is about to be discharged from the army Harry is killed in action and the tables are turned on Tom. Realizing what he did and convicted he is sentenced to five years in prison and trades his thrown for a cell. But, when Watergate occurs and Nixon is impeached the new President pardons all draft dodgers. Winding up working for his aunt and uncle he meets a young lady who just might change his life. Annie Mae Meeham comes into his life almost out of the blue claiming she has no memory of how she came to Cape May or why she is there. Situations come about that Tom decides to take her in for the night but not before learning a body washed up on the shore right where he and this young girl were walking and talking. Taking her in for the night he remembers his time in prison, his archenemy Bruno and now the police want to question him about the man who washed up on the shore. Lying about meeting this girl and knowing she knew the man who was killed, Tom finds himself embroiled in her life. Coming back to the Dew Drop Inn she arrives with his brother’s book in hand as they both confront each other on many different levels. It’s almost as if she knows him better than he knows himself as Annie continues to let the reader know her assessment of Tom, his actions and why they both feel like the world does not care whether they exist or not. Philip Gladden is dead and now the police are trying to find out why. Tom loves to spend his days walking on Higbee beach and collecting what most refer to as Cape May Diamonds, which his aunt creates bracelets and other pieces of jewelry. But, something happens that changes things as his Uncle Mack is rushed to the hospital and a police detective wants to learn more about the man who washed up on the shore from Tom. The truth about what happened to him startles Tom as why would anyone want to attack his uncle and who were the two men in suits that came to the Dew Drop Inn? Questioned again by Police Detective Jill Davis, Tom once again becomes the center of attention for all the wrong reasons.

 

Tom met Annie and for some reason they both could not admit that there was something that would bind them together. Annie Mae claiming she had not memory of her life and Tom feeling lost in his own private world of defeat, hate and distress. With his sarcastic sense of humor and her serious or comedic wit these two characters provide the dialogue the narration and backdrop for this interesting novel. Author Larry Enright brings to light what happens when the political world changes, a President is dethroned, draft dodgers are releases and pardoned and two lost souls meet in a town that no one really cares about and too many know Cape May. May 19, 1975 would remain in his mind and hers forever as they met for some reason maybe fate or it was meant to be. As Annie speaks to the reader she expresses her concerns and feelings for Tom. As Tom speaks to the reader you get the impression that he’s unsure of why he keeps helping her, allows her to stay with him and wonders why she cares about who he sees and speaks to.
With his Uncle Mack in the hospital he needs to step up and run the Dew Drop. Annie refuses to take no for an answer and together they attempt to deal with all of the crowds, the Senior Special and the breakfast-dinner rush. But, the Inn was broken into and the back door left opened just who was his family a target? Furthermore he still needs to find out what happened to Annie Mae after the burglary at the Dew Drop and just why did she disappear? What is her connection to the man who washed up on the shore? But, the town pitched in and helped him get the Dew Drop back in business and one police detective proved to be a really good friend.

 

Two men came into town and explained to both Tom and his Aunt Mindy it would be wise to sell out. Innuendos made, inadvertent threats and Tom calls Jill to help him but what is the real reason anyone would want the property in this town and is this linked to the death of Phillip Gladden? Throughout the novel whether she is physically present or not we hear thoughts of Annie Mae as she relates the events through her eyes, where she thinks Tom is going but never why she is there. As Tom starts to piece the puzzle together you learn about more deaths, more accidents and people selling off their property and Realty Company hired to handle the sales. With his Uncle not answering questions, his aunt worried about paying for the hospital and the town on the decline just what can Tom do to save the Dew Drop, what part does Annie have and why did the police close all of these cases?

 

As Tom helps the police with their investigation he finds out something interesting related to the real estate company and an article in a back issue of a paper dealing with Gambling and Casinos in Atlantic City. Added in he hopes to find out more about the detective who was fired and left town and suspicion is cast upon the doctor who seems to be buying up the property in Cape May. Just how will these all link together still remains to be seen.

 

As Tom’s uncle is to be released from the hospital he works hard to learn why. Critically injured and definitely not stable enough to go home he searches for answers as some turn a blind eye, doctors comply and one medical examiner and doctor might have gone rogue. Who is behind everything and why are two police departments involved? What is the link to the governor, the doctor and the police chief? Just how far would some go to get what they want?

 

Bribery, murder, the mob, fraud and racketeering was how many filled their bank accounts but one young man whose persistence and drive would not let himself or the rest down as he proves himself not just to the town but just maybe to himself. Where does Annie Mae wind up? What about his relationship with his family when things get tough and his uncle and aunt decide to leave Cape May? What will be the final fate of this town? Will anyone find Cape May Diamonds worth more than the price of Quartz? Once again author Larry Enright takes the reader inside the hearts and mind of the Ryan family and allows everyone to get to know the read Tom. Love, friendship, loyalty and trust and one town that will never give up on itself.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Let’s give this book: FIVE REAL CAPE MAY DIAMONDS!

 

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Peril: My review


Peril: Pearl Goodman

Watching the world, trying to learn about her neighbors, making friends and sharing the history of her family creates an interest in the reader from page one of this interesting novel. Filled with a child’s love of life, fantasy and hope to make the world a better place, Pearl Goodman shares her life, her family’s strife and much more with readers. Peril: her name is Jewish and yet meaning impending doom or something bad will happen. First we meet her watching as a new family moves into her neighborhood and a young boy named Henry. Pearl of Polish descent and Henry of German make a an odd friendship and at times you being to wonder if it will last. Remarks made about her grandparents and his. Statements about the war and a mother who fears that making too much noise in their house will chase the business owner away, Pearl looks for ways to integrate in a world other than the one created by her parents. Added in at the very beginning are Yiddish expressions both my mother and grandmother taught me growing up.  We hear the author’s voice as she relates in the first person her life growing up, the children she meets, and the importance of what she learns and hears in the back lane and the games of dare she and several others play. Wanting to care for a pet was not what her mother would allow. References to the holocaust and what happened to so many Jews were made in most of the chapters and related to several incidents to ward off her curiosity and explain why Pearl needed to focus on other things. Her mother did not seem open minded and the way they lived seem as if she was afraid that the same thing that happened in Germany to the Jews would happen here.

 

As the author introduces Lydia and discusses the reasons many Jewish people decided to change their names, become more anglicized and not broadcast that they were Jewish. Like the windows in a plane that you look out of and see the world below and visualize the many places that you pass and would love to visit, Pearl’s eyes are like cameras that take pictures of the world that she sees as if she is in a plane, describing where she is, has been and would like to be. Living in St. Clair she meets many different people and observes them closely and forms her own opinion. Telling about the backyard she really did not have and the walkout from the store on the ground floor, she understands the many drawbacks of where she lives, the limitations and the people living there that provide the stories that she is relating to the reader. Meeting Lydia and her family we learn of her habits and what happens when smoke fills the air in their apartment or flat and someone dies and one lives but just how you will have to learn for yourself. Many people look at the world and really don’t see anything past what they want to see and never fully comprehend the lives of others and often theirs too. Pearl’s eyes encompass quite a bit. Information about her neighbors, tenants and friends are recorded on paper in this book or memoir as if she’s creating a permanent video for everyone to watch over and over again. Some descriptions quite stark, bland and others descriptive as she realizes that life is not always what a young person wants and making do with what you have is sometimes what needs to be done. Her parents are from the old school and many times refuse to budge on the things that she wants, her desires and opinions when they differ from theirs. Customs must be adhered to, reminders of the war and what the mother went through graphically described at the end of most chapters, beating the odds as she describes her mothers 16 encounters with death. Rituals as simple as a night out and the preparations, the fun of receiving special candy treats from the hostess whose house they visited and the references to the Cold War, Russians and Anti-Semitism round out many of the subjects of the chapters read so far. But, darkness invades her thoughts and her room as she often fears that Peril: something bad or awful is just around the corner.

 

Her mother’s experiences have left a marked imprint on her whether outside but definitely within her every though and movement at times. Far of people, the tenant leaving and moving his store, having to remain quiet during the day not to disturb him you get the feeling that their lives are run by others as they were during the war. Hoods or motorcycle gangs invaded the neighborhood, encounters with the hoods, threats and one young girl who stands up for her brother against all odds. Going back in time the author describes the German ammunitions factory and their way of eliminating nonproductive workers. For those who think it did not happen think long and hard and think again. Three Chapters are devoted to God and the author shares her Sundays with the reader as she attends Hebrew School, (which I loved) the lessons, the teachers, learning about Moses and the Ten Commandments, and the foods that lined the tables and the smells that filled the air. Can you smell the delicious soup being made, the white candles that were lit, hear the prayers made over the candles and the special breads and deserts handmade and some bought. Family owned businesses, some more exciting than others, Perlmutter’s bakery, Women’s Bakery and are vividly described as Pearl just wanted to fit in, be noticed and feel she mattered. The debut of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, Top Gigio the Italian Mouse made up another part of her Sundays plus movies like White Christmas, teens and how they changed the neighborhood, and more about the war described on pages 98-101.

 

Watching, learning, observing and remembering including her own rite of passage, the way they celebrated Hanukkah, the fruit, the music and the disappointments she relates the introduction of instant coffee and the changing neighborhood all comprise the memories that Pearl Goodman shares with the reader. Parents that made ends meet and money that was tightly budgeted and few luxuries afforded so imagine her excitement when she finally got a bike. Some of the things that her brother did to her were hilarious including the adding something special to her chocolate drink. Then Indian sunburns and other things they did that made them brother, sister and really close. Some funny others just payback or revenge the one normal relationship she had was with him.

 

Family dynamics often change and her brother and father’s relationship frayed and was fragile. Issues about grades, school, and harsh words spoken on both sides and one young girl caught in the middle trying to have a relationship with both. With her brother trying to create his own personal image, his own pedigree and claiming he was adopted and going off on diatribes and tangents about it. Going to camp he made friends with many rich kids. As a camp counselor at Camp Tamaran he socialized with sons of important fathers. He was friends with staff and campers and seems to love life outside of Ontario. Pearl’s experience in camp was not the same but she loved it. No night terrors, dreams, nightmares and living in the same room or bunk with 13 other kids on cots was like living in a dorm. She loved it. Teen fun, smoking m swimming, inhaling and exhaling smoke and many other experiences are described plus learning the true meaning of what some really mean girls are called and the definitions behind them in chapter 19. But, the author goes back in time to January of 1945 and what she relates about the prisoners, the death camps, and two vignettes that her father told her will give you more than just chills or nightmares. Imagine emaciated figures, imagine hollow eyes, imagine being rounded up on foot. Imagine hearing planes flying and wanting to know if they were here to liberate you. Were they here to kill those on ground? What would the end result be? The second story tells of the Soviets freeing the prisoners to learn more read it on pages 163-165.

 

Discussions about Civil Rights, wrongs, Dr. King and Malcolm X fill Chapter 21 as the 60’s was an interesting time filled with Woodstock, civil unrest, many assassinations, prejudice and music that would change the complexion of what we listened to on television and in our homes. Musicals like Showboat, singers like Belafonte, even her mother thought many of these men wonderful. Pearl includes the right of passage, many sexual issues, and parties, socializing and slow dancing. Imagine asking her own mother if she could have a party in her house and that she could handle it all. But, her mother said in Yiddish how she felt, her feelings towards having anyone black invited and you can almost tell her answers and her feelings from the conversation. The end result the conversation got out of hand, misconceptions and misunderstandings and of course no party. Read her diary entry on page 202 to learn how she really feels about her parents when she explodes on paper. Her brother moved away, life went on, music filled many homes but in hers it was chosen for her. Freedoms were few, her parents remained steadfast and one incident would remind her mother of the camps.

 

As the final chapters bring the past full circle into the present as the author shares September 1945 and her parents marriage, surviving the camps and starting their lives. Hoping to fin their way to freedom and what they hoped with is their haven, as they make it to Italy. The stories that unfold, the hardships they continue to face and the boat they are hurdled into will help you understand the struggles they faced from the beginning, their endurance and the reasons behind their actions in the present. But, they went from one camp and wound up in another as you will learn and read about on pages 230- 235. Racism is not something that her parents were immune to, as you will learn.

 

The final chapters talk about their departure to Canada, her mother’s Yiddishisms, and her mother being summoned to testify as the key witness fro the prosecution in the trial of a Nazi war criminal. This book brings to light the fact that the war and what happened never left her parent’s minds for one minute, having to face the past in the present difficult and many secrets come out that you will learn for yourself when you take the journey back in time with Pearl and understand what her parents endured, the life she would have liked to have lived and the one she did live with in constant fear of Peril. This is one story that I am truly honored to have been asked to read and review.

 

Fran Lewis: Pearl Goodman:

איך געבן דעם בוך פינף בלוי און ווייַס שטערן‬

‬איר זענט באמת ספּעציעל און דאַנקען איר פֿאַר ייַנטיילונג דיין געשיכטע.