It never fails. Books I almost don’t read turn out to be fantastic! The Ice Cream Queen Of Orchard Street exceeded my, admittedly low, expectations in several ways. I’ve tried reading so many novels that attempt to recount someone’s life but the execution was painfully slow and boring. The Ice Cream Queen Of Orchard Street was one of those rare fictional novels that read like a memoir and depicted an immigrant’s amazing life while examining the cost of success.
I can’t say what prompted me to add this book to my “to read” list given the odd premise- Malka, a young Russian girl, immigrated to New York in the early 1900’s but was abandoned by her family after becoming disfigured in a freak accident. Adopted by the family whose horse caused her injury, Malka learned the ice cream business while scrounging the streets for pennies. The writing was sharp and aggressively used clever zingers to turn what should have been a sad story into an enjoyable tale about, well, life. The author gave Lilian both positive and negative events for her to experience, and while this made her an imperfect character, it also explained her insatiable craving for success and revenge. I was sympathetic towards Lilian from the beginning because of her big heart and compassionate acts. Told in a flashback by the elderly but smart Lilian, the consistency of the commentary easily merged the two narratives into one. The book showcased one woman’s desire to achieve the American dream in a way that was flawed and beautiful at the same time.
This was such a gem! I’m glad I read it and will look up other books by this author.