The Prince of Steel Pier

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Modern Age

The Prince of Steel Pier
Author: Nockowitz, Stacy
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1975
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: Atlantic City, Mobsters
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Upper Middle Grade
Format: Novel
Published: 2022

American History > Modern Age > Jewish History

A young teen falls in with the mob, and learns a lesson about what kind of person he wants to be.

In The Prince of Steel Pier, Joey Goodman is spending the summer at his grandparents’ struggling hotel in Atlantic City, a tourist destination on the decline. Nobody in Joey’s big Jewish family takes him seriously, so when Joey’s Skee-Ball skills land him an unusual job offer from a local mobster, he’s thrilled to be treated like “one of the guys,” and develops a major crush on an older girl in the process. Eventually disillusioned by the mob’s bravado, and ashamed of his own dishonesty, he recalls words of wisdom from his grandfather that finally resonate. Joey realizes where he really belongs: with his family, who drive him crazy, but where no one fights a battle alone. All it takes to get by is one’s wits…and a little help from one’s brothers.

Emily's Review

I found that I enjoyed this book more than I expected. The first chapter begins with a dead body and the main character vomiting - twice. So I had my doubts. But I'm glad I stuck it out.

Joey is the middle child and therefore feels overlooked by his busy Jewish family. Every summer they go to Atlantic City to help their grandparents run their hotel. He stumbles into a relationship with the mob, who show him the attention he craves.

I thought this story was well-written and paced. There were many moments of tension, as Joey continuously puts himself in danger with the gangsters he is involved with. That plot was very well done. I also appreciated that Joey was questioning his belief in God and learned that questioning is not only normal but encouraged. The characters were all very well done - very vivid. I loved the relationship between the brothers, it felt very realistic. I also appreciated that the author based this story on her own childhood - maybe not the part with the gangsters, but the grandparents owning an Atlantic City hotel.

Overall, I thought this book was a great story about families and finding your place in the world.

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