Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.

I’m currently sharing from my recently-released How Kätchen Became Sparky, a book which I’ll always think of as The Very First, its title for many years. It’s set from August 1938–January 1939, as new immigrant Katharina Brandt, now called Katherine Small and nicknamed Sparky, seeks to become a real American girl without compromising her Judaism or German and Dutch customs. Meanwhile, her new best friend, Cinnimin Filliard, learns there’s more than one way to be a real American.

Sparky and her family are attending services at Beth Kehillah with her family on their first Sabbath in Atlantic City. Unfortunately, they don’t mesh well with these second-generation Americans. When several congregants try to make conversation after services, their differences become increasingly magnified. Mrs. Small and Sparky were just advised to stop dressing so modestly, and Mrs. Small was told not to cover her hair with a tichel (scarf).

“Thank you for that unsolicited advice.” Mrs. Small forced a smile. “My family will be going home for lunch now. I don’t suppose there’s a hospitality committee arranging for Sabbath meal invitations for newcomers.”

“What would be the point of that?” the second husband asked. “If there is one, we’ve never cared enough to inquire. Your family is too religious for this congregation. You’d be better-off attending an Orthodox synagogue.”

Sparky was awash in humiliation as her family made their way out.

The nine lines end here. A few more follow to finish this section.

“It’s only the first visit,” Mrs. Small said. “We shouldn’t rule it out so swiftly. Perhaps this wasn’t the most ideal day, or we encountered the wrong people. If it still doesn’t feel like an ideal fit in a few months, we can go elsewhere. First impressions are wrong sometimes.”


I’d hoped to have the paperback version ready to go within a week or two of the e-book release, but it turned out to be a slightly longer process than I expected. I also took a break of about two weeks to start work on the final draft of the book formerly known as The Very Next. The print version will definitely finally be ready before Halloween!

10 thoughts on “WeWriWa—The awkward first impression concludes

    1. Atlantic City had a very large Jewish community prior to the postwar exodus to suburbia. There were many tensions between the more established group who’d been in the U.S. for at least two generations, and the newer immigrants who arrived in more recent decades. They reminded the second-generation Americans too much of the world they left behind and considered outdated or not American enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m amazed at how blunt those members of the congregation are. Surely there’s a better way to say such things that doesn’t come off so rude. I can only hope that not everyone there is the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’re living in a guesthouse attached to the house of their sponsors, and Sparky shares the attic bedroom with their sponsor’s youngest child. The Smalls never quite get used to the cultural difference.


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