Jennifer S. Brown

  • USA Today bestseller
  • Massachusetts Book Award “Must Read”
  • 2017 Housatonic Book Award finalist in Fiction
  • 2016 Goodreads Choice semifinalist for Historical Fiction

Modern Girls

How was it that out of all the girls in the office, I was the one to find myself in this situation? This didn’t happen to nice Jewish girls.

In 1935, Dottie Krasinsky is the epitome of the modern girl. A bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan, Dottie steals kisses from her steady beau, meets her girlfriends for drinks, and eyes the latest fashions. Yet at heart, she is a dutiful daughter, living with her Yiddish-speaking parents on the Lower East Side. So when, after a single careless night, she finds herself in a family way by a charismatic but unsuitable man, she is desperate: unwed, unsure, and running out of options.

After the birth of five children—and twenty years as a housewife—Dottie’s immigrant mother, Rose, is itching to return to the social activism she embraced as a young woman. With strikes and breadlines at home and National Socialism rising in Europe, there is much more important work to do than cooking and cleaning. So when she realizes that she, too, is pregnant, she struggles to reconcile her longings with her faith.

As mother and daughter wrestle with unthinkable choices, they are forced to confront their beliefs, the changing world—and the fact that their lives will never again be the same….


“In her debut novel, Brown deftly sketches the historical context of two Lower East Side women’s domestic tribulations, alternating between their stories, reflecting upon the social consequences faced by women in different generations…. A clear-eyed view of the sharp, difficult choices facing women on the cusp of equality.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A moving debut, portraying the sacrifices a mother and daughter make in order to save face for their family.” —Booklist

“The novel is not only a nostalgic portrait of an earlier era but a feminist reminder of how limited and circumscribed were women’s opportunities and choices just a few generations ago….. Satisfying both emotionally and narratively…. Its suspenseful plot and warm emotional tone should appeal to a wide audience.” —New York Journal of Books

“The novel Modern Girls is a historical fiction written with such sincerity that the pretense of history falls blissfully away…. The story, surprising and heartbreaking, keeps the reader guessing through each chapter, until the last word.” —San Diego Jewish Journal

“Well researched, beautifully written and thoroughly engaging, this is a story that will draw you in from the very first page. Brown captures the voices of the 1930s Lower East Side with a fierce tenderness that immerses you in bygone era and her talent for painting a complex picture with ease and fluidity makes this a compelling and emotionally griping read.” —Dish Magazine

“An exciting debut novel…” —St. Louis Jewish Light

“Modern Girls is a well-researched and thought-provoking debut novel.” —Working Mother

“Brown pens the story of a Jewish immigrant mother and unmarried daughter, both pregnant and neither planning on it, in 1930s New York City. The result is a thought-provoking tale of parents and children and the sacrifices they make for one another.  Exploring our dreams and choices and the way they intersect to form our lives, Modern Girls is a heartwarming, haunting and memorable debut.” —Pam Jenoff, international bestselling author of The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach

“Be prepared to lose yourself in a mother-daughter tale unlike any other. With one generation entrenched in the old world and the other struggling to make her way in the new, Brown expertly handles the complex nuances of family secrets guarded along with impossible choices made in the name of love and honor. Original and unique, you’ll find yourself rooting for Dottie and Rose the whole way through.” —Renee Rosen, author of White Collar Girl

“Clear your schedule and brew a pot of tea. Once you start this wonderful, detailed novel you’ll want to read straight through.” Amy Steele, Entertainment Realm

“Brown derives a morality tale, a mother-daughter story, a romance that’s satisfyingly hard-edged, a cultural exploration for a young woman divided between two worlds, and a feminist argument that makes its point without a soapbox. It’s unusual to find a first novel with such breadth, especially one that doesn’t compromise reality to ease the pain.”Novel Historian

“The desperation in this book is not something new for women but it is described so exquisitely that we can’t help but feel the pain of both Dottie and Rose… This was an excellent debut and I will be on the look-out for more by this author.” All Books Considered

“[N]othing short of mesmerizing…. remarkable.” Writergurlny

“The author beautifully re-creates the vanished world of Yiddish-speaking immigrants in Depression-era America….The way each woman handles her dilemma is not resolved predictably—another of the pleasures of reading this warmhearted yet realistic novel…” Reading the Past

“I was swept away with this story from the start, frantically turning the pages to find out the ending… a stellar story!” Unshelfish

“Modern Girls leads us on a wild ride through time. It tugs you along, twisting your heart. These characters are strong, fierce, diverse and electrifying. I loved them.” Garabrandt Reviews

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