book cover of The Toy Fair

The Toy Fair

A novel by

In 1957 fifteen-year-old Jake Mihalich is sent by his mother to live with his father’s family in a seedy rooming house in a small Connecticut town outside New Haven. In the shadow of a noisy rock quarry that spews dust over the landscape, in a neighborhood of rundown homes, young Jake observes the drama of the members of the rooming house run by his aunt Katie: not only his alcoholic father and his bitter grandfather, but transient tenants that include a beautiful refugee from war-town Hungary as well as a disgruntled secret Nazi who stalks another tenant, convinced the man is a Communist. In the dark days of McCarthyism and Nazi war trials, the stuff of daily news stories, Jake witnesses the unraveling of the lives around him against the backdrop of unresolved national debate. A lonely boy, Jake dreams of escape to another world. But as time goes on, Jake and his aunt Katie form a loving bond, which both surprises and delights—a bond that is salvation for both of them. As springtime turns into summer in the seemingly idyllic town, the conflicts plaguing the household explode. Sexual tension, political rivalry, jealousy, petty squabbles, resentment, even a horrific murder—all turn the rooming house into a dangerous place. Jake comes to understand that this small-town world is a frightening microcosm of a world gone mad in the immediately years after World War Two.

Genre: Literary Fiction

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