On Bittersweet Place is the powerful coming-of-age story of Lena Czernitski, a young Russian Jew whose family flees their homeland in the Ukraine after the October Revolution. The story unfolds in Chicago during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s, where Lena’s impoverished family has settled and where she must traverse the early years of adolescence. Lena’s new world is large and beautiful and full of promise, but it is also cold and unwelcoming and laden with danger.
Ronna Wineberg delivers a moving, universal story of family, self-discovery, young love, and the always relevant experience of the immigrant, the refugee, the outsider struggling to create a new home and a better life in an unfamiliar place.
Praise for the book:
"Long before the phenomenon that is Lena Dunham, Ronna Wineberg gives us the unforgettable Lena Czernitski. This incredible girl will steal your heart. She is passionate and practical, fierce but also forgiving. Wineberg's debut novel On Bittersweet Place will hold you in its gentle enthrall. A coming of age novel, an immigrant story, and an altogether moving meditation on life and the pursuit of happiness." ~Marcy Dermansky, author of Bad Marie
"In the pages of Ronna Wineberg’s On Bittersweet Place, one finds echoes of Anzia Yezierska and Betty Smith; in the fictional story of Lena Czernitski’s immigrant family in the first quarter of the 20th century the reader recovers a piece of our larger American history. Quite impressive." ~Erika Dreifus, author of Quiet Americans
"A powerful evocation of the complexities of the early 20th-century immigrant experience too often sugar-coated and sentimentalized. Rich with precise period detail and iconic historical references, On Bittersweet Place brings to life the travails and triumphs of one Jewish-American family readers will not easily forget." ~Joan Leegant, author of Wherever You Go
"Youth is never all sweet, and On Bittersweet Place's Lena, a Russian-born Jewish teenager in 1920s Chicago, certainly has her share of troubles. The sweetness is there, though, in this heartfelt coming-of-age tale–– in the tenderness of Wineberg's beautiful prose and the pluck of its resilient young heroine. A story that stays with you." ~Anne Korkeakivi, author of An Unexpected Guest
"A tender, and tenderly rendered, portrait of a young Russian emigre undergoing transplantation shock in the New World. Wineberg's wide-eyed protagonist never sheds her guileless idealism, nor does Wineberg's limpid prose ever shed its unassuming grace." ––Peter Selgin, author of Drowning Lessons