The Tin Horse

Told through the "wry and witty voice" of Elaine Greenstein, an 80 year old retired lawyer, Janice Steinberg's The Tin Horse is a multi-layered story focusing on the mysterious disappearance, at the age of eighteen, of Elaine's twin sister Barbara. The book - easy to read and difficult to put down - is full of interesting characters and details of time and place, of the mystery, humor, and truths of life.

Among the many layers are:
Family history - The Greensteins are a Jewish immigrant family in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The twins and their two younger sisters grow up in the 1920's and '30's. Their parents (who met in Los Angeles) and grandfather (who lives with them) have come from Romania and their stories of persecution and escape are told.

Romance - There are multiple romances described in the novel, all useful in defining the characters. One of the main characters, Danny Berlov, a young Zionist who later emigrates to Israel; romances each of the twins and these relationships are central to the mystery of Barbara's disappearance.

The twins - Barbara studies dance, loves performing, and leaves her home and family to pursue her own life and goals. Elaine stays near family, becomes a lawyer, has a happy marriage, but is hurt by the loss of her twin and misses her constantly. When Elaine begins to pack for a move to housing for seniors, she finds new clues about her missing sister. With the help of a young researcher who is preparing her papers for the USC special collection, Elaine seeks the answer to the mystery with the hope of reuniting with her twin.

How we live out lives - what we do, what we think, the stories we tell, how each of us sees the same life events in a different way, the consequences of our decisions and choices  - is a theme that runs throughout this well written novel.

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