How to Make a Life

How to Make a Life

A Novel

Florence Reiss Kraut


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“An engaging and heartfelt portrayal of intergenerational trauma and hope.”
Kirkus Reviews

When Ida and her daughter Bessie flee a catastrophic pogrom in Ukraine for America in 1905, they believe their emigration will ensure that their children and grandchildren will be safe from harm. But choices and decisions made by one generation have ripple effects on those who come later—and in the decades that follow, family secrets, betrayals, and mistakes made in the name of love threaten the survival of the family: Bessie and Abe Weissman’s children struggle with the shattering effects of daughter Ruby’s mental illness, of Jenny’s love affair with her brother-in-law, of the disappearance of Ruby’s daughter as she flees her mother’s legacy, and of the accidental deaths of Irene’s husband and granddaughter.

A sweeping saga that follows three generations from the tenements of Brooklyn through WWII, from Woodstock to India, and from Spain to Israel, How to Make a Life is the story of a family who must learn to accept each other’s differences—or risk cutting ties with the very people who anchor their place in the world.


Florence Reiss Kraut:
Florence Reiss Kraut is a native New Yorker, raised and educated in four of the five boroughs of New York City. She holds a BA in English and a master’s in social work. She worked for thirty years as a clinician, a family therapist, and the CEO of a family service agency before retiring to write and travel widely. She has published personal essays for The New York Times and her fiction has appeared in journals including The Evening Street Press, SNReview, The Westchester Review, and others. She has three married children and nine grandchildren and lives with her husband in Rye, New York.