Cover Image: How to Find Your Way in the Dark

How to Find Your Way in the Dark

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Thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for this ARC. I have not read any of Derek Miller's books, but will be sure to do so now. I loved this book and loved the character, Sheldon Horowitz. What a book, a crime novel, coming of age story, historical fiction, sure to please if you have interest in any of these. I am certain to get a copy his previous book, Norwegian by Night.
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Published by Mariner Books on July 27, 2021

Billed as a “Sheldon Horowitz novel,” How to Find Your Way in the Dark features the elderly protagonist of Norwegian by Night during his tween and teen years. Beginning in the years before America’s entrance into World War II, Derek Miller’s novel focuses on Jewish boys who can’t understand why Americans of all religions aren’t asking their government to join the fight against Hitler. The story follows Sheldon from the age of eleven until his early adulthood, when America has finally entered the war and the country seems on the brink of confronting its own history of antisemitism. The novel’s social and political content serves as a background to a coming-of-age crime story about a boy who dreams of revenge for his father’s death.

Sheldon’s mother burned to death in a movie theater in Hartford. His father Joseph blamed himself for his wife’s presence in the theater, guilt that Sheldon believed his father did not deserve. Sheldon learned to hunt and shoot from his father. They made a living selling pelts to the Krupinski family, whose members skimmed the proceeds by lying about the money they received from buyers. Joseph knew he was being cheated but didn’t want to make waves. The consequence of not making waves is one of the novel’s themes.

The Krupinskis were cheating a mob family as well as Joseph. In the novel’s opening pages, Joseph borrows a truck from the Krupsinskis. A mob killer mistakes Joseph for a Krupinski and runs him off the road. Sheldon walks away from the accident, but his father dies. Getting revenge against the driver becomes young Sheldon’s mission in life.

Now an orphan, Sheldon goes to live with his father’s uncle, who is raising his son and daughter on his own. Abe and Mirabelle are both a bit older than Sheldon but they get along with him. Sheldon’s best friend, however, is Lenny Bernstein, whose plan in life is to make money as a comedian.

When Sheldon is fifteen, he and Lenny con their way into summer jobs as bellboys in a fancy Catskills resort. Lenny tries out his brand of anti-Nazi humor at various venues before Jewish audiences, earning lots of applause and laughter before he’s fired for telling political jokes instead of one-liners. In the background, albeit almost as an afterthought, Abe moves to Canada where he can enroll in the RAF and fight Nazis.

The plot gives Sheldon a chance to avenge his father’s death through a clever series of crimes at the resort. Sheldon’s scheme puts him at odds with Mirabelle, who indulges her desire for the good life by visiting the resort with a man Sheldon instantly loathes. The story combines humor and suspense as Sheldon tries to gain revenge without being murdered. When Sheldon moves to New York a few years later, revenge comes back to bite him, placing him in peril again.

How to Find Your Way in the Dark has been compared, at least in its blurbs, to Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I had the sense that Miller intended to invite that comparison. The plots are entirely different but Miller’s story of young Jewish males on the East Coast during the pre-war years assures that the novels share certain themes. Chabon’s book is more nuanced than Miller’s in its depiction of American attitudes during the pre-war years, although Miller does give older Jewish characters the opportunity to explain their reluctance to work more aggressively to influence anti-Hitler opinion prior to Germany’s declaration of war against the United States. Chabon’s novel also creates a more carefully defined sense of American history that Miller’s.

While Miller’s book isn’t as remarkable as Chabon’s, few books are. If Miller’s novel comes up short, it is only by comparison to a Pulitzer Prize winner. Miller’s characters are sympathetic, the story is entertaining, and the sociopolitical background, while a bit heavy-handed, never threatens to overwhelm the storytelling.

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“How to Find Your Way in the Dark” is a coming-of-age tale with a dark patina. A year after the tragic death of his mother, thirteen-year-old Sheldon sees his father killed beside him after being run off the road by a malevolent thug, and the resourceful teenager embarks on a journey of revenge and growth. Set in the northeast states of America in the lead-up and start of World War II, author Derek B. Miller brilliantly evokes a fraught, gaudy time. Miller is an exuberant stylist with a knack for bantering dialogue, and most scenes, even the violent ones, are laced with comedic touches. I was reminded of the expansive sagas of E.L. Doctorow, embedding complex lives in rich historical settings, only more gung ho. Overall, this is a fast-paced, immersive read diminished only slightly by the author’s love of all his characters and settings, sometimes at the expense of tautness. If you enjoy memorable, resourceful heroes, embrace How to Find Your Way in the Dark.
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Author of a prior book I LOVED-NORWEGIAN BY NIGHT. Here we meet the hero of that book-Sheldon Horowitz-as a young boy and then through early adulthood. Evocative for me,as I worked at the Edgewood Inn as a busboy and at Grossinger’s for 2 summers in college( both famous Jewish resorts in the CatskillMountains of upstate New York, now non existent). It is sociopolitical commentary, a  study in identity and prejudice, And a father/ son love story.
At times funny, at times terribly sad, and the last part of the book is tough to get through with a dry eye.
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I did not read Norwegian by Night, for which this novel is a prequel.  

A tender historical fiction, coming of age novel, this is well written, character driven, and introspective.  There are a few different story lines, but they are woven together well.  I was a bit surprised by the emphasis on the gangster side of life and felt in a way it took something from what was the more important aspect of the story…the world wide anti Semitism and horror it brought prior to and during World War II.  

There were a few misses in this novel but, overall, a recommended read.
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How to Find Your Way in the Dark is a coming-of-age story set during the rising tide of World War II, it follows Sheldon Horowitz from his humble start in a cabin in rural Massachusetts, through the trauma of his father's murder and the murky experience of assimilation in Hartford, Connecticut, to the birth of stand-up comedy in the Catskills all while he and his friends are beset by anti-Semitic neighbours, employers, and criminals. Twelve-year-old Sheldon Horowitz is still recovering from the tragic loss of his mother only a year ago when a suspicious traffic accident steals the life of his father near their home in rural Massachusetts. It is 1938, and Sheldon, who was in the truck, emerges from the crash an orphan hell-bent on revenge. He takes that fire with him to Hartford, where he embarks on a new life under the roof of his buttoned-up Uncle Nate. 

Sheldon, his teenage cousins Abe and Mirabelle, and his best friend, Lenny, will contend with tradition and orthodoxy, appeasement and patriotism, mafia hitmen and angry accordion players, all while World War II takes centre stage alongside a hurricane in New England and comedians in the Catskills. With his eye always on vengeance for his father’s murder, Sheldon stakes out his place in a world he now understands is comprised largely of crimes: right and wrong, big and small. This is a compelling and thought-proving read highlighting the power of human connection and does so not only with rich insight but humour, too. It's a terrific bildungsroman and a darkly entertaining tale in which you cannot help championing survivor Sheldon as he continues through his life. A searing, touching and absorbing exploration of Jewish discrimination in WWII America. Highly recommended.
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I suspect I'm going to be the odd one out on this novel others will likely greatly enjoy.  It's WWII and Sheldon, whose mother died in a movie theater fire, is with his father when they are forced off the road.  HIs father is killed and Sheldon begins to take revenge on those he believes might be responsible.  His uncle Nate, an accountant for Colt, takes him in and Sheldon's world changes.  He engages in capers along with his cousins Mirabelle and Abe and then reconnects with his friend Lenny.  All along the way, he looks for the man with the mustache who rammed the car.  There's a segue to the Catskills and Abe also engages in revenge.  There's an underlying theme of anti-semitism.  Sheldon meant to be 12 at the start of this, conveys as much older (especially for the time period).  It's well written but it also flagged in spots for me, perhaps because it felt more like a series of Boys Own Adventures.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Fans of Norwegian By Night will find this a must read but as a prequel, it's fine as a standalone.
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I’m a big Derek Miller fan. His writing is precise and intelligent. I absolutely loved Norwegian by Night and the character of Sheldon Horowitz that he built. That said, I didn’t love this book. The construction of Sheldon’s character felt bitter and forced. This is a hard read and completely devoid of the humor and charm of the other two books I loved. 

Poor Sheldon has to deal with too much in his life. On the positive side, I enjoyed the historical accuracy of the book. The 30’s and 40’s came alive for me. His father, uncle, and cousins were great characters - not to mention Lenny, who stole the show. 

This is worth the read, and I will continue to buy Miller’s books. But I wanted more from this offering. I wanted to know the Sheldon who saved a boy in NBN, but I only got a one-dimensional character full of anger and spite. 

Thank you to Mariner Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I love that Derek B. Miller has taken an important character from his book Norwegian by Night and taken him back in time to show us his childhood and how he became the unusual man that he did.

And what a childhood it was for Sheldon Horowitz growing up Jewish, in America, in the 1930's when society's view of Jews was not good and opportunities for them were limited. After Sheldon's parents both die he goes to live with his uncle and two cousins, Abe and Mirabelle, both of whom he admires greatly. WW11 begins but America remains neutral, much to the distress of Jewish Americans who are watching the situation of their compatriots overseas. Abe in particular is determined to play his part and this of course influences Sheldon.

Not that Sheldon needs much influencing. He has his own causes to deal with, chiefly the fact that he believes his father was murdered. Revenge is always on his mind and when he gets his opportunity his planning and execution have to be seen to be believed. Sheldon Horowitz is smart, cunning and single minded in his pursuit of his aim, all characteristics he carries into his old age.

Some of the best parts of this book are the scenes with Sheldon's boyhood friend Lenny who tries to develop a career as a comedian. To achieve this the friends take jobs as bellhops in a large hotel. This leads to some very funny chapters and also some very dramatic ones involving the Mob, stolen jewels, large sums of cash and a certain hitman.

Reading this book I found myself one moment unimaginably sad for the poor boy growing up with so much tragedy, and the next I would be laughing out loud at some funny dialogue or entertaining comment. There were moments of stress - I always hate it when people are searching hotel rooms and you just know that any moment the key will turn in the door as the occupant returns. There was also lots and lots of historical fact and social commentary included in the best way as this author always does. This is an excellent book in all ways.
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How to Find Your Way in the Dark is the great new book from Derek B. Miller.

"Sheldon Horowitz is still grieving over the loss of his mother when his father is killed in a suspicious accident. Sheldon is determined to avenge his father's death. He goes to live with his Uncle Nate and cousins, Abe and Mirabelle. in Hartford. It is 1938 and Sheldon must face a hurricane, mafia hitmen and the specter of WW II.

This is a coming-of-age story for Sheldon. We first met Sheldon in Norwegian by Night as a widower. In this book we find out the things that make Sheldon who he is. His determination - his willingness to do whatever it takes to avenge his father - and his love for family. 
Miller makes some great observations about society  and people especially in light of what was going on in 1938.

Another great read from Miller. You'll want to add this to your list.
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I didn't think it was possible to top "Norwegian by Night," but Derek B. Miller has done it. How is it possible for one (youngish-looking, in his author photos) person to to have acquired all the wisdom and humorous insight with which he imbues his characters?

I loved Sheldon Horowitz as an 82-year-old man in Miller's debut, but he is irresistible in this book, as a 12-year-old orphan who is more resilient and resourceful than most of the adults around him. This story has history, geopolitics, human nature, comic routines and a few crimes to be solved along the way.

Elsewhere on Goodreads, Miller wrote about authors (including himself) who "have dedicated years of their lives only to bring a new creation into the world for your pleasure and enlightenment … however much and often we may fail."

Mr. Miller, you have not failed yet to bring pleasure and enlightenment to this picky reader. Thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books for an advance reader copy.
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Thank you NetGalley, Mariner Books and Author for this chance to read and review 
How to Find Your Way in the Dark by Miller. 

I found this novel to be beautifully written with the characters just jumping right out to you. 

Taking place in Massachusetts 1938 young 12 year old Sheldon is trying to move past a horrible loss. Losing his father to a weird devastating car crash. 
He was also in the car during the crash but walking away from lights a fire in him and he is determined to get revenge on whoever caused his parents death! He also lost his mother a year before due to a fire in the movie theater. 
He moves to Hartford to live with his Uncle Nate. Along with two cousins, like Sheldon they lost there mother. 
The next ten years the Sheldons plan revenge to his fathers killer. 

I instantly loved this story! Like damn it was was intense but so freaking amazing at the same time! 
Miller's writing is fabulous with such amazing characters that will have you wanting to read more.
The flow of the story was continuous and I truly did not want to put this down as it was an addicting read.

Thank you again for the opportunity to read and review this outstanding novel. It is one I truly enjoyed!
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One of the best books I've read all year.  Thanks so much to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for my advance copy.   

It's been seven long years, way too long, since my five star adventure with octogenarian Sheldon Horowitz in Norwegian by Night.  And now Derek Miller has given us a taste of a young Sheldon, age 11 to 21, roughly 1937 to 1947, as he mourns his parents, seeks revenge for his father's death, comes into age and his Jewish heritage trying to join the Marines to kill Nazis, breaks a few laws, pisses off a few mobsters, and falls in love with a few young women.  

The characters are truly wonderful and wonderfully written.  Some of my favorite parts were Sheldon's interactions with his older cousins Abe and Mirabelle and his best friend Lenny.  Lenny wants to break into show biz as a stand up comedian so gets them jobs as bellhops at a hotel in the Catskills near several clubs.  Miller writes in his "Acknowledgements and Denials" afterword that he wrote Lenny's material himself, which doesn't surprise me at all as I think Miller has a terrific  sense of humor as well as a rare understanding of the human race.  It all seems alternately madcap and darkly serious.  

I admire the author's many talents and will read anything he publishes.  Looking forward to the next in the trilogy!
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We first met Sheldon Horowitz in Miller’s wonderful debut novel ‘Norwegian by Night’, when at the age of eighty two visiting his daughter in Norway, he gets caught up with a Balkan gang after rescuing a young boy whose mother they had just assassinated. Going on the run with him, Sheldon’s quirky inventiveness and life experience keeps the boy safe as they evade both the gang, the Norwegian police (and in Sheldon’s mind, the Koreans). Now, in his new book, Miller has taken us back to Sheldon’s childhood in Massachusetts and Connecticut and the events that shaped him into the man we met seventy years later.

Right from the start it’s clear that Sheldon is not an ordinary boy. A deep thinker and questioner with a lively mind, he prefers books over sports and games and is best friends with Lenny, the only other Jewish kid in town. A year after Sheldon’s mother died tragically in a cinema fire with his Aunt Lucy, his father Joseph is killed when they are run off the road. Now an orphan and sent to live with his widowed Uncle Nate and teenage cousins Abe and Mirabelle, he imagines ways to find and kill the man who caused his father’s death. Sheldon keeps in touch with Lenny by writing him letters, telling him of exploits with his cousins and later the pair will reunite to spend a memorable summer in the Catskills working as bellhops while Lenny tries his hand at stand-up comedy.

As Sheldon is coming of age in the late 1930s, the world is once again at war, and anti-semitic feeling is high as America halts Jewish immigration and prevaricates about entering the war. Sheldon’s cousin Abe decides he can’t wait while America ignores what is happening in Europe and joins the Canadian air force, finding a role in protecting ships taking vital supplies to Britain.

It’s Miller’s wonderful wit and insight into human relationships in addition to his own quirky way of thinking that brings his characters so colourfully to life. Sheldon is unforgettable, even as a boy. He is a problem solver, using his big imagination to plot ways of bringing retribution to those who deserve it and finds himself up against jewel thieves, mafia-like gangsters and bagmen. Lenny is another great character whose conversations with Sheldon add much humour to the novel along with his attempts to become a stand-up comic. 

Those who have met Sheldon before as an elderly man in ‘Norwegian by Night’, will enjoy acquainting themselves with his younger self and the events that helped to shape the man, while those who are meeting Sheldon for the first time are in for a treat.
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This book is a sort of prequel for another book [book:Norwegian by Night|15775210]. In this book Sheldon is just a boy, his mother died in a fire in a picture theatre and he is now living a reclusive life with his father. 
In another tragic event that leaves him orphaned Sheldon finds himself living with his widowed Uncle Nate and his two older cousins Abe and Mirabelle.  The beginning of the book is set at the beginning of the Second World War and being of Jewish descent both Abe and Sheldon feel a certain rage at being Jewish Americans, where their country refuses to be drawn into the war that is targeting Jews.
A long and sometimes rambling story, it is told very beautifully and my heart broke for Sheldon several times over.
Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt for the opportunity to read this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was a heartbreaking read and reduced me to tears at times, but I still felt compelled to read it to the end. So many times I wanted to be able to put my arms around Sheldon (and Abe and Mirabelle) for the life he'd been dealt and for his courage. It's sensitively written and shows the author has tremendous insight into the human condition. 

Beautifully written with the characters coming to life. Some of Sheldon's blunt language about people had me smiling. It’s also a story that has tragic consequences leading to a vortex of despair and redemption. The slow pace reflects that of the setting, parts of the USA rarely written about. Those liking fast paced modern “thrillers” will be disappointed but if you enjoy good writing, believable characters and a vivid painting of the setting; read, enjoy and contemplate. A literary treasure. This is the first book I've read by this author and I'll definitely be reading some more.
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5★
“Sheldon was wet on the inside. This was a never-going-to-be-dry-again kind of wet. Every step he took was like lifting a tree trunk rather than a leg. Every move of his arm was like wading through the rapids of a river. Every moment that passed was one step closer to being filled up like a water balloon and then chucked off a high bridge into a wide barge where he’d explode and there’d be nothing left but little scraps of clothing and eyebrows.”

Okay, so he’s a little dramatic. He’s only twelve, after all, and he’s struggling with being made to lug sandbags to raise the levee to protect the town from flooding. If it’s possible to be more miserable, he doubts it.

He lost his mother and Aunt Lucy a year ago in a movie theatre fire, and his father was killed when the truck they borrowed was forced off the road. Only he survived. Then, left all alone, his house burned down (don’t ask).

Now he’s had to leave his hometown, his school and his best friend to live with his dad’s brother Nate in Hartford. Nate’s miserable, too, and not a very gracious host. His wife died in the same theatre fire with Sheldon’s mother, leaving him with two teenagers. Abe is eighteen and Mirabelle is a shapely sixteen, very much the woman of the house.

This covers a period from about 1938, when Hitler is marching across Europe and America is saying “nothing to do with us”. Sheldon and his family are Jewish, and while he’s never given it much thought, his eighteen-year-old cousin Abe is a political creature who reads the news and collects papers and articles. Sheldon is reminded of his dad.

“Joseph liked to say that newspapers didn’t tell people what to think, but they did tell them what to think about, and it was helpful for people to share questions because it was the only way to arrive at a common answer.”

Sheldon loved his dad and he’s set on revenge. When the truck was run off the road, Sheldon got a good look at the driver, and is sure it was no accident. He confides in Abe, who has been keeping an eye on some man in a black car that keeps parking across the road from their house. Abe asks If the man could be Sheldon’s killer? Sheldon doubts it.

“‘My guy had a mustache.’

‘He doesn’t have one. Then again, men shave.’

‘It was one of those bushy ones. People with those don’t shave them off. They name them.’”

We know just what he means. This guy is going to keep his mustache. Meanwhile, Nate changed his name from Horowitz to Corbin and works at the big – and I mean BIG – Colt Armory, an enormous firearms factory. Colt 45s and all that. So – guns.

This is probably a good time to tell you that when Sheldon and his dad were run off the road, they were on their way back from their regular trapping run in the woods. Their business was selling pelts for fur, and Sheldon grew up to be a capable hunter. They sold to the Krupinski brothers, middlemen, from whom they’d borrowed the truck.

There are several threads running through this magnificent story, and I enjoyed them all. Sheldon and Abe have their mysterious villains. Added to that, guns are disappearing from the Colt Armory, and Abe is convinced that his Jewish father (in spite of the name change) is being set up as the eventual fall guy when the powers-that-be (more villains?) in the quite white Colt business crack down on the missing inventory. But who listens to a kid, right?

Abe has a run-in with Roy Fowler, one of the Colt bosses at a dinner party.

“‘That’s what’s happening in Europe right now,’ Mr. Fowler said, turning back to Abe. ‘A balancing of the power. Germany wants its pound of flesh, and we understand that. An eye for an eye. Once the balance is achieved, all of this will die down. That’s the Old Testament right there.’
. . .

‘The Talmud says we can’t take it literally,’ Abe explained, ‘because “no two eyes are the same”.. . . This is why justice will never come from finding a balance with the forces of evil. It will come by defeating them.’”

Frustrated, Abe looks to Canada. I was reminded of the TV mini-series created by David Simon from Philip Roth’s 2005 novel The Plot Against America about a Jewish family living in New Jersey in an “alternate history”.

In it, Charles Lindbergh, the aviation hero, outspoken isolationist (and admirer of Germany's revitalisation) becomes President of the United States. In Roth’s story, Americans were turning violently against their Jewish neighbours, who were being forced to flee to Canada, where Canadians were fighting the war.

I have known young people this informed and passionate. Not all teens are ignorant of the past or the possible future. I say this, because I’m sure some readers may be surprised to hear Abe and Sheldon talking so seriously. I wasn’t, and I thought the war worries were as real as those of passionate, informed Vietnam protestors.

Meanwhile, Sheldon types long letters to his best friend Lenny, back in Whately, instructing him to read and burn all letters – which Lenny does, much to my surprise. What began looking like a Boy’s Own Adventure becomes very much more. It is an engrossing, engaging novel. I did enjoy Lenny as an excellent buffer between Sheldon’s earnestness and Abe’s bitterness.

Lenny has real aspirations of becoming a stage comic, and he talks Sheldon into working at Grossinger’s in the Catskills for the summer. [This is the place that inspired the resort in the 1987 film “Dirty Dancing”, where Patrick Swayze worked his magic and famously said ‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’. But I digress.]

Lenny is a funny, quick, smooth-talking larrikin, as Australians would call him - a likeable kid who can’t sit still (or shut up).

“Lenny Bernstein had it all figured out. Like everyone else who had it all figured out, he announced it with the customary phrase:’“Look. All we gotta do . . .’ Lenny’s hands were back behind his head, his feet were stretched out in the grass in front of his house, and he was looking at a cloud that — given another moment — was promising to look like a burlesque dancer’s ass. He was prepared to wait it out.
. . .
‘We’re going to start at the bottom of the top as bellhops and waiters and stuff. We’ll make more money, we’ll meet fancier people, and I suspect the food will be great. And there will be girls.’

‘There are girls everywhere.’

‘Rich girls angry at their fathers. That’s the sweet spot.’”

It’s the summer of 1941. Lenny fast-talks them into jobs as bellhops, they put on the uniforms and blend in with the background. Yessir, nosir, three-bags-full-sir.

Lenny’s comedy routines are funny and nostalgic, since we used to see comics like this on television. But things take a darker turn when a jewel thief, a fence, and guns come into the picture. And the man with the mustache.

They are still only fifteen this summer, but the way the story unfolds, it feels as if it covers a family saga of sorts. It is full of heart, and I wanted to know what happened to all of the characters, including those in the war in Europe (yes, we go there).

I have not read the author’s previous “Sheldon Horowitz” books where he’s an old codger, but I imagine if you have, it should only add to your enjoyment.

I am particularly tickled to see the author’s thanks in his acknowledgments to my Goodreads friend, Marianne Vincent, who was an early reader and whose review convinced me to read it. I have added another book to my favourites shelf.

Thanks to NetGalley and Mariner Books – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for the preview copy.

(Yes, yes, I know this is too long.)
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How To Find Your Way In The Dark by Derek B Miller
Rating: Starred Review

Summary: Young Sheldon Horowitz is orphaned at twelve years old after his mother and father die in separate tragic deaths. He is sent to live with his uncle and two cousins. Much like Sheldon they lost there mother and the father is not mentally able to care much for them. The novel covers the next ten years of Sheldons formative years and revenge to his fathers killer.

Comments: This will be considered the crime novel of the year, if not the novel of the year. Although described as a coming of age novel, it’s much much more then that. Miller will have a couple of up coming releases to challenges his book, but it’s by far the best I’ve read this year 2021. Outstanding!
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I loved the character of Sheldon Horowitz in Norwegian by Night, so I was delighted to read this historical novel that focuses on Sheldon's backstory. This book is a coming-of-age story about a young Jewish boy who loses both his parents far too early. He is shaped by the pre-WWII climate of the late 1930s, including the rampant anti-Semitism and American isolationism of that time. Sheldon is on a quest for revenge against the man who murdered his father, and his ingenuity and resourcefulness make him seem far older than he is. I really enjoyed the supporting characters: Sheldon's cousins Abe and Mirabelle and his best friend, Lenny, who wants to be a stand-up comedian. There is a lot going on in this novel, but it all comes together well in a thoughtful and at times humorous portrait that shows how Sheldon Horowitz became the old man we first met in Norwegian by Night. My thanks to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers, and Derek B. Miller for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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What an absolutely endearing read with humor and heart wrapped in a compelling plot line. 

In 1938, twelve yr old Sheldon Horowitz is in a suspicious car accident when his father is run off the road resulting in his father’s death. His mother died the prior year in a movie theater fire so he moves from Massachusetts to his uncle’s house in Hartford. His cousins Abe and Mirabelle, and his best friend Lenny help him through not only general teenage growing pains, but also coming to terms with being Jewish at the time the Nazi’s power begins growing in Europe, and in his determination to find the man who caused his father’s death. 
The author’s first book “Norwegian Night” – which I just read - is about this unforgettable character as an old man. So I guess this new book is kind of like its prequel though coming after. Taking place in Norway, it is also filled with laugh out loud humor and heartache, but is also a bit of a thriller. Loved it. 
Richard Russo, one of the best story tellers ever, states that Sheldon is “one of the most memorable characters…that I’ve encountered in years.”
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