Upper West Side Story
Harvard Square Editions
Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women's History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor's office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York's Upper West Side. Upper West Side Story is the tale of fierce parental love tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Max and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs. The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina's closest friend, that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well—all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world. Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, a love of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control.
Susan Pashman is a philosophy professor and former attorney. While in law school, she served a year in the New York City Council President’s office; some of what she learned there has found its way into this story. But most of this book derives from her experience of raising two boys on her own in Brooklyn. Many of her sons’ childhood exploits, and the hopes and fears she had for them, became the heart of this novel. She resides in Sag Harbor, New York, with her husband, Jack Weinstein.