The Rothsteins and the Changs. Eyes of Emerald creates a picture of an orthodox Jewish family whose values, traditions and morals mirror that of mine growing up living with my grandparents. Ida and Irving Rothstein are hardworking family oriented people who have devoted their lives to helping their children get the best that they can offer. Irving works on the docks and Ida tends to the home along with Grandma Lipchitz the matriarch of the family. Irving and Ida remind me of my grandparents but Grandma is definitely more like my mom. When Grandma speaks or tells a story everyone stops and listens. Respect for elders is taught and the story opens where we meet Stanley a young man who wants to learn more about his family’s heritage, enters the genealogy room of the library and here is where the story begins. Now begins the next in the history of the family as we meet Sammy Chang the son of Esther and Sammy Chang, and the family traditions continue as young Sammy’s life is about to change. His family started the House of Chang and now he would meet Uncle Louie Han and his best friend and bodyguard as he travels from Florida to New York by train. Along the way he meets many interesting people but one would impact his life in many ways as he meets George who directs him to Pete who works at the Freedom Hotel and from that point on the story takes off in many directions.
Esther Rothman is in her final hours of life and passes away but not before she tells Sammy that his destiny or life does not lie in Miami but in New York. Boarding a train and headed for New York he meets George and many others in this trip hoping to find a safe passage there. Inside a bag is what will help frame his course of life and destiny as there are jewels inside this bag but at this time he has no idea of their worth. Things take on many interesting turns as Sammy finally arrives at the Freedom Hotel after having some trouble with muggers and taking action on his own, he finds an incredible city that awaits him.
Meeting Becky Lu would change things as she relates what happened when given a job that was not what she thought she was hired for. With nowhere to go and Sammy finding once again he agreed to help her out. Things happen fast as Sammy meets his Uncle Louie, and then learns about his family hoping to connect with so many people. Through his Uncle Louie he learns about the Chang business and that eventually he might be given a job in the company. But, first he has to meet his mother’s mother, Grandma my favorite character in the novel as she reminded me of my grandmother, Katie who would never allow anyone in her kitchen. As he meets her for the first time the love, warmth and feelings that are expressed are heartwarming. Meeting the entire family was scene right out of a television sitcom and the way his grandmother orchestrated it was great. Filled with fun, humor and one grandmother that no one would dare mess with. But, within any novel there has to be discord and some conflict as things get heated at one point one we meet Suzie Hurst, married to Dr. Winston Hurst, a well know cardiologist. Suzie is Louie’s daughter and she has secrets she does not want revealed. Her attitude is cold and her demeanor is colder as she demands that everyone bows to her whims and her wants.
Willie Fong owns a real estate company and wants to buy up all the stores within a certain area and will use any method he wants to gain control and get the property. With the help of someone that no one suspects he gets the information he needs and supplies this person with opium in order to help increase the person’s addiction and loyalty to him.
Sammy makes many contacts through his uncle and is told he and another man named Yo Ma or just plain Yo in Karate at a rigorous pace will train him. Sammy also learns the meaning of family loyalty, love, friendship and giving back to others. When Sammy learns the worth of the jewelry that his mother left him you won’t believe how rich he is but it never really goes to his head. Helping Becky Lu is one step in the right direction as they start off with a sister/brother fun relationship. The author uses italics or another font to let readers hear Sammy’s thoughts, fears and ideas. Master, is what he calls his uncle and defying him would not be allowed. Aunt Su is Louie’s wife and Sammy is embraced by everyone especially his grandmother who wants him to live with her and he does on an off but his heart seems to be with Becky.
Dealing with his bank funds was suggested and advised by his uncle since it was more than most of us would ever see in a lifetime. Meeting Rebecca and Schmooly his mother’s friends and eating at their deli made this reviewer hungry. Dealing with his uncle’s broker he was able to make some solid investments to increase his portfolio or account. Things take on many turns as Becky Lu receives a job offer, Grandma sets her up in a rent free apartment in her building which she owns and then Sammy is told he was moving to Trenton to manage one of his Uncle’s restaurants as we learn about the strong arming and murders that have been enacted in order for Willie Fong to get the properties he wants. But, when it hurts one of the Chang restaurants and his employees are killed Uncle Louie learns a harsh fact about someone close to him and then an action plan is put in place.
Becky and Sammy seem to be in a relationship even if they don’t want to admit it. Gram or grandma wants it to happen even though she’s not Jewish. The traditions are interesting and the Jewish expressions bring back memories since my grandmother spoke very little English and we conversed in Jewish most of the time. The scenery and the discussions with the drivers and the other people enlisted by his Uncle Louie allow you to understand the power behind this man and what is about to happen next.
When they realize what Fong is doing the plan that is created will take down many lives and put others in grave danger. Richard the waiter at the hotel is one of Sammy’s favorite people and wants to become involved in the DA’s office and with the help of his cousin Michael the Assistant DA it might happen but first they have to take down Fong.
Plan in place, law enforcement at the ready and the plan is in motion to get Suzie back because they kidnapped her. The ending will shock readers and the execution of the plan will bring out Sammy’s skills in Karate as they did when he had to deal with Becky’s boss. Who lives, who will win this battle and what lessons will be learned before all is said and done and the final punches are inflicted and the final shots ring out. Author Harvey Stelman leaves readers spellbound at the end with a takedown that is unique, suspenseful and will shock readers. What is next for Sammy? Will he realize that Becky Lu is the right one? What about Grandma will she see him happy before all is said and done? Who gets the famous Emerald Necklace that his mother wore and what will happen next? Will Sammy Return once again?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine
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