I've read the book's prequel Rivington Street but hadn't revisited Union Square since I bought it in a used bookstore in Guatemala in 2001. RS is a historical novel, but US reads more like a fictional history. It's full of educational examinations of Jewish life in the 1920s-40s, covering issues like Palestine, Zionism, World War II, communism, and labor politics, but also tells the stories through the lenses of art, fashion, and psychiatry. Tax used oral histories for her research, and the voices sound authentic. To me the most interesting and informative bits are the characters internal and external struggles with the party line and the multi-faceted views on the conflicting Zionist movements. The author does a good job of revealing multiple truths in these contentious topics, but you still have an idea where she's at personally. The sometimes disastrous relationship between the Communist Party and American labor, not to mention the difficulties it creates between father and daughter is sometimes painful to read, but fascinating stuff!
Jul 17 2010