Sink or Swim, Brooklyn, by Ron Kemper
1947, World War 11 has just ended. The country is buoyant. But Brownsville, a gritty Brooklyn neighborhood, is experiencing enormous change. Southern blacks and Puerto Ricans are moving into this traditionally Jewish/Italian working class neighborhood. Tension on the streets is palpable.
Since his birth six year-old Stevie Alpert has endured illness, fear and anxiety. Plagued by nightmares he often sleepwalks. His mother, Rachael, half-jokingly says, “Stevie is more active at night than during the day.” As he grows up he fights to overcome his personal demons and the hostilities he encounters on the street. A Nazi-like thug he knows only as “Wolf Eyes” threatens his life. Will the black friends he’s made in the projects come to his aide? Will Stevie reciprocate when rivals threaten their territory?
Follow Stevie’s wins and losses through his junior high school years and his family’s struggle to help him and themselves. Can his parents save their faltering retail business? Can they/should they remain in their home as the neighborhood gets poorer, blacker and more violent. Their struggle is a story of fear, doubt, resilience and perseverance.