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Tessie and Pearlie


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About the Author

Joy Horowitz is a freelance journalist and former staff writer for The Los Angeles Times. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Magazine, and many other national publications. She graduated Harvard cum laude in 1975 and worked as a copy girl, sports writer, and investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. After stints as an investigative producer at the local CBS-TV news station in LA and feature writer at The Los Angeles Times, she received a masters degree in Studies of Law (MSL) degree from Yale Law School in 1982. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation Fellowship, a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her reporting on indoor air pollution for The Los Angeles Times, and Sunday Magazine Editors' Association award for her Los Angeles Times magazine article Greetings from Pearlie and Tessie, which was the basis for her 1996 book, Tessie and Pearlie: A Granddaughter's Story. In 2007, her second book, Parts Per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School, was published and led to her being honored as an environmental hero in 2008 by the Environmental Relief Center in Los Angeles. That same year, she received an environmental journalism fellowship to study at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Joy now lives with her husband and children and dog in Santa Monica, California.


In this powerful memoir overflowing with warmth and humor, Horowitz, a freelance journalist, illuminates the lives of her two bubbes (Yiddish for "grandmothers"). Over the course of 18 months, she interviewed Pearlie, her mother's 93-year-old mother, in Santa Monica, Calif., and 94-year-old Tessie, her father's mother, in Queens, N.Y. Both women live alone and share an immigrant past and the physical impairments of old age; their personalities are very different. An orthodox Jew, Tessie boycotted Horowitz's wedding to a gentile, does not fear death, advocates a pragmatic approach to life and is a dynamite gin player. The more emotional Pearlie loves to dance, is still a great cook, wants to go on living and believes that religion is in the heart. Horowitz intersperses her grandmothers' accounts of their childhood poverty and reminiscences of love, sex and childbirth and her own struggle to come to terms with her dying father's lung cancer and her yearning for a spiritual comfort that she receives, in part, from talking to Tessie and Pearlie, "the smartest women I know." Photos. (June)

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