I will admit it, Brooklyn Bridge made my heart glad with all its obvious love of Brooklyn, especially Prospect Park, but that’s far from the only reason to like the book: it’s good, solid historical fiction with elements of the supernatural and an eye for the details in history. For the most part, it’s about Joe, son of the Russian Jewish immigrants who invented the Teddy Bear. His is generally a good life, and he knows it – he’s secure in housing, food, and family – but he’s a kid, and gets grumpy about the time he needs to spend making bears instead of, well, being a kid. Or going to Coney Island.
Opposite Joe are short sections about the homeless kids under the bridge. They’re short enough that the main focus stays on Joe, but long enough to make you care – and wonder – about the kids under the bridge, so that when the big reveal comes and links the two threads, you’re ready for it.
The narration is sappy at times, in both sections, but the book’s fast past keeps it under control; you’ve built up enough momentum to get through the sap without getting stuck in it. And I always love the sense of wonder surrounding Coney Island and the World’s Fairs in the early 20th century. It’s like magic and science, all rolled into one.