Freedman's mother, Eleanor, died of cancer at age 50. Thirty years later, he has written a vivid story, her story, with all the narrative energy of a novel. She was a lovely girl, and she loved being admired. She grew up in the East Bronx, surrounded by Jewish Eastern European immigrants like her family; she had boyfriends and one bad marriage before the good one; during World War II, she basically supported her entire family and attended college. She had flash and grace. Freedman is too hard on himself for the callow undergraduate he was during his mother's dying, but most of the tale is rich in remembered conversations, postcards from the front, Yiddish sayings, and the texture of what the Jewish Bronx was like in the 1930s and 1940s. He does it with the same meticulous research skills he used in Small Victories (1990) and Jew vs. Jew (2000): a painstaking mosaic of memory, interview, document, and artifact.