Sonia Pressman Fuentes

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Excerpts from Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You

  • Jewish Geography -- this story was first published in October 1998 in Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs.  Here, both the English version and a version in transliterated Yiddish are available in pdf format.
  • Return to Germany -- the story of Sonia’s return to Germany in 1978 to speak about the women’s rights revolution in the US for the then-US Information Agency (USIA), published on the website of The Jewish Writing Project on Jan. 19, 2009. That story is also contained in the anthology, Marking Humanity, Stories Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, edited by Shlomit Kriger (Aug. 23, 2010, pp. 226-234).
  • If You Speak His Language --This piece was published in Tzum Punkt (Nov.-Dec. 1999, Vol. 1, No. 2)  p. 5, the newsletter of Yiddish of Greater Washington.
  • Thai Silk -- This piece was first published in the Common Law Lawyer and then on the websites of,, and (September 2001).
  • Florida and Beyond -- This excerpt appeared on May 25, 2001, in the Story Lady e-newsletter and on its website, the Jewish Frontier, the Jewish Internet magazine, the Jewish Magazine online, the e-zine, Home-Based Working Moms, and the Writer Online. Terry Boothman, the editor of the Writer Online, had this to say about it in the January 14, 2003, issue that carried the story:

    Everyone's life is interesting, right? Sure. So, everyone should write a memoir, right? Yeah, why not.. And everyone should publish a memoir, right? Good Lord, no. Because not everyone knows how to write a publishable memoir, which means a memoir that lots of other people will enjoy reading. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, published just such a memoir--"Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter." Now, in How I Got My Mink Stole, excerpted from that memoir, you can get a glimpse of exactly how good memoirs are written.

  • Weinberg's Glasses - the story of what happened when Sonia's father found a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Sex Maniac -- the story of the Second Wave of the women's movement and Fuentes' role in it.  
  • Harry Golden and "the Coat" -- Sonia Fuentes sues Harry Golden, published in Jewish Currents, June 16, 1997. 
  • How I Got My Mink Stole -- a lengthy struggle with an unexpected denouement.
  • Eating Out -- published in the April 11, 2001, issue of Writer's Bloc Online, the e-newsletter of the National Writers Union.
  • Graduating With My Class -- Fuentes' desire to graduate with her high school class has a significant consequence.  Published originally in the Catskill/Hudson Jewish Star 6.2 (June 1996) 17.1 and then on Harry Leichter's website.
  • Mother and the Night School -- published in the December 2001, issue of Kolot, A World of Jewish Voices. 
  • Catskills Stories -- Some of Fuentes' stories about her experiences in the Catskill Mountains of New York State may be found at the Museum of Family History.

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cover Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Book Ordering Information

In the United States, EAT FIRST can be ordered in paperback and hardback from,, and  The book can be ordered from in the UK and in Canada. EAT FIRST is also available for Kindle which includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.

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Eat First

Eat FirstBook Review

Inscriptions, June 2001

by Karen Sweeny-Justice

June, 2001

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

5 stars:  Outstanding, engrossing, a classic
4 stars:  great, almost perfect, entertaining

"Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You" is an autobiographical story that reads more like a well written novel than a biography. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, actually begins her tale with the story of her mother, father and brother, and of the family's escape to America during Adolf Hitler's rise in Germany.

Fuentes' voice is strong and compelling, as is the tale she weaves for readers. The much younger child of older parents, Fuentes became the first person in her family to attend college, and at a time when her traditional parents wanted her to concentrate on finding a husband, she instead chose to concentrate on a career in law. She worked with various government agencies and private corporations, moving about the country, and was a part of the beginnings of the National Organization of Women.

The mix of humor and short chapters might seem an odd combination in a story that features tragic tales (escape from Germany, the Holocaust and cancer, for instance), but Fuentes' narrative ties it all together and propels the tale forward. Each chapter relates a different aspect of her life, in mainly chronological order.

The only spot where I thought the story snagged a bit was where the Fuentes mentioned her husband before she properly introduced him and wrote of their courtship.

The editing was well done, and Fuentes used the space she was given to really introduce herself to readers. The combination of anecdotes, historical references, personal remembrances and family photos (old and new) makes it feel as if Fuentes is an old friend rather than a stranger who has led one very interesting life.

This review first appeared on the Inscriptions website, June, 2001.