13-year-old Joey Goodman is about as tough as gefilte fish—just ask his big Jewish family. But when a notorious Atlantic City gangster offers him a job, Joey unwittingly joins a very different “family.” Now, Joey must find his strength and stand up to the mob boss to save those he loves from sleeping with the fishes.
It’s nine o’clock on Friday morning, and Mrs. Goldberg is definitely dead.
We stand around the bed in her hotel room, but Mrs. Goldberg isn’t waiting for us to decide what to do next. She died in her sleep. She’s just lying there, eyes closed, mouth ajar. Her tongue is bloated, like a thick slab of putty. She’s the first dead hotel guest I’ve ever seen. Come to think of it, she’s the first dead anything I’ve ever seen, except for bugs. That might explain why I’m shaking.
She doesn’t look peaceful, like I thought a dead person would look. More like defeated. Or deflated. She’s a balloon with the air let out.
Uncle Sol rubs his chin like he expects there to be a beard beneath his fingers. “And here I thought we were going to get through the whole summer without one guest dying on us.” The guests at the St. Bonaventure are so old that two or three usually die during the course of a season, but my dad never let me see one before. “Such a shame. Mrs. Goldberg was a good guest. Paid for the whole summer up front. Never missed our Shabbat services.”
“She gave good tips, too,” my oldest brother Reuben says. “Slipped me an extra ten at the end of August last year. She didn’t have to do that.”
“She looks like a piece of gefilte fish,” my other older brother Simon mutters.