The writer of Through the Children's gate, Adam Gopnik, has been writing for the New Yorker since the year 1986. Even though he is very famous for his writings in the New Yorker, he has been appreciated the most for his assortment of dispatches from the French capital. He wrote these dispatches from the years 1995 through 2000.
Being a brilliant writer, this book has been beautifully written by Gopnik. In his writings, we can find all aspects including warmth, wisdom and wit. However, his status in France was that of an outsider, and that is what brought something extra in his writing when he returned to New York.
He wrote this book when he returned to New York with his wife and children. Gopnik was an American who was brought up in Canada. He came to New York as a young boy and lived here as a postgraduate.
The title of this book has been taken from the name of the entrance of the Central Park that is situated at Seventy Sixth Street and Fifth Avenue. This collection of 20 essays gives all the readers an outstanding insight into the lives of Gopnik's two children called Olivia and Luke.
He explains how they are trying to amend their life as they move into their new house. The focus of this book is appropriate as Gopnik observes the world of the Upper West Side as he sees his children adapt a new life there comfortably but it cannot be said that they settles there completely without unease.
It is evident from his writing that Gopnik does not consider New York was more of an ultimate achievement than it was a home for him. One the other hand, even if this was not the case, he indicates at the very start of the book that it is just not possible for anyone to own this city. He says even if the canyons of New York get imprinted on one's DNA, a person cannot prove his ownership for New York. When he was a young boy, the idea of living in New York meant the world to him as he even said "some other place, greater than any place that would let me sleep in it" (Gopnik 5).
Through the course of the story, Gopnik develops from just watching the skyline from distance, from the Riverside Drive apartment of his aunt, to someone who finally makes it to the city. It quite evident how much he admires the place as he sees it as a collection of lights and thinks it's going to feel the same when he is going to live there, because at that time he is not allowed to.
He has explained his admiration for the city when he was not there when he said, "Ever since, New York has existed for me simultaneously as a map to be learned and a place to aspire to - a city of things and a city of signs, the place I actually am and the place I would like to be even when I am here" (Gopnik 5).
Anyone who has ever been to New York will be familiar with Gopnik's feelings. However, it is always good to read such pieces of writing, as that of Gopnik's who has put every word together so cleverly. We can tell by this book that Gopnik admires cities and has an inborn understanding of the way these huge cities work, which implies their underlying psychology and not subways and the sewers.
Gopnik has to deal with two New Yorks, the one where he lives and the one that has been seeking forever. Both these New Yorks have their fantasies, but both can be irritating as well. "In New York, the space between what you want and what you've got creates a civic itchiness: I don't know a content New Yorker" (Gopnik 6).
When finally Gopnik makes it to the city, not just one but many problems are hurled at him. He tries to explain through this text that no matter how big of a fantasy it is to live in New York, life here is constant struggle. This point-of-view of Gopnik is evident from the way he explains the process of finding an apartment in the city.
Even though he had to face the trouble of finding an apartment in New York and had to call the brokers every now and then, his love for this city outweighs all the frustration that he used to feel at times. "Home again, to begin once again at the beginning. Apartment-hunting is the permanent New York romance, and the broker and his couple the eternal triangle" (Gopnik, 23).
As Gopnik calls it romance of New York, the trend that is not a characteristic of New York but that of many other cities is that the real estate brokers show the clients the apartments that have not yet come into existence. Everyone is made to a sign a document that is full of dust stating that you promise not to sue the broker if you get killed during your examination of the non-existent apartments.
According to Gopnik, this is a fair deal. He thinks that this document is only an acknowledgment that the search of a new home can also be fatal just like climbing the Everest is.
The reason why he is in so much love with New York is that he has returned from a foreign land to where he belongs and also because of the unfortunate event that happened on 9/11. His love has mainly been explained by the title, which is a reference to the main entrance of Central Park, but it also has reference to his son Luke and his daughter Olivia. He has explained how hard they find it to live in the tiny room of the hotel, when the family is still looking for an apartment.
The mention of his children in this book is not like we normally find in others. Gopnik has not stated the funny things that his seven-year-old son or four-year-old daughter used to say, but he only explains how his children settle in New York and how they adapt to the new life.
In this book, Gopnik has described every kind of feeling that one might have when he comes to New York, or the feelings of the people who already live New York. He has explained what one has to go through when he is looking for a new house and then in third chapter "Man Goes to See a Doctor," he explains the nervousness one feels when he finds a job and even when he has found one.
Through this chapter, we find out that the people who live in New York should not be concerned much about their professional anxieties. This has been implied through the advice of Dr. Grosskurth who tells Gobnik that his nervousness and is not going to do any good to him.
When Gobnik goes to see the doctor because of his anxiety, the doctor says, "No one cares! People have troubles of their own!" (Gobnik 44).
Another thing that is implied in this chapter is that New York is a city in which everyone is concerned about himself. No one has the time or nerves to be bothered about someone else. The only successful people are those who mind their own business and just try to make life better for themselves and their family and no one else.
One of the reasons why this book is so close to the hearts of the American people is that it looks back at the events of 9/11 and the aftermath that it caused. The explanation of Gopnik is so vivid for these events that someone who was actually not even there at the time of the terrorist attack can feel the anxiety and fear in the air. Some of the text is also, at some places, overshadowed by the anxiety because of the events of 9/11. He uses characteristic metaphors to describe the effect of the terrorist attack.
Looking at the city after the deadly attack he describes it by saying that it looks like the huge Titanic sank just next to a subway station and the sinking was seen by people who were curious as well as frightened as they say something that was so hard to believe. He explains that the people, after watching the disaster, go back home and tell their families what they had seen.
Yet again, Gopnik writes about the people of New York as being very strong. His thoughts are evident from the fact that he tells the readers that irrespective of the disaster, the people of New York started living on one foot, and they had to hop along (in spiritual context) in the beginning.
Yet again in these chapters, he is seen to return to his main themes; children and families. "The real question that pressed itself…