Brooklyn Bookbeat: Local author recalls worldly adventures in new memoir

Though she’s settled in Brooklyn, author Ellie Levinson has spent the majority of her life across the world. In her new memoir “Let’s Play Hopscotch” (Tate Publishing & Enterprises), Levinson invites readers to Welkom, the small South African town in which she grew up with five siblings. She describes her experience growing up under apartheid in the 1950s with a Catholic, Lebanese mother and an English father. She goes on to chronicle her extensive travels, recalling her visits to 42 different countries.

Likening her life to a game of hopscotch, Levinson reflects on hopping from country to country and the endless array of characters she’s met along the way. Most notably, Levinson met Ivan, a Jewish medical student; they have been married for 36 years, having raised four children.

Complete with photos and hand-drawn maps (which include personal notes such as “Brother Ralph’s ill-fated short cut ‘down’ the bridge”), “Let’s Play Hopscotch” is an engaging and intimate text. Written in the present tense, the immediacy of the narrative allows the reader to feel a sense of closeness to the narrator and her experiences. Levinson writes, for instance, “We have to be spick and span for mealtimes. We all file in and sit down anywhere, but not on the seat at the head of the table. That would be for Daddy.” Later, she informally questions, “Did I mention that Mom is one of twelve children? Imagine how many cousins we have.”

Later, she recalls such momentous moments as voting for Nelson Mandela in the first free election in South Africa. Ellie and Ivan now live in Brooklyn Heights while their children are spread across the U.S., the United Kingdom and South Africa.