A German-born author of fiction, she is best known for her 1965 novel, Up the Down Staircase, which focuses on an idealistic English teacher at an inner-city high school. She published a second novel, Love, etc., in 1979.
After graduating from Hunter College and Columbia University, she worked as a teacher in several New York high schools.
She was born in Germany and grew up speaking Russian and German. She didn't start learning English until the age of twelve, when her family immigrated to the United States.
With her husband, Sydney Goldstine, she had two children.
She and fellow author, Lauren Kate, both had books on the New York Times Bestseller List.