Books by Dorit Orgad

Released: Oct. 1, 2007

It is 17th-century Spain, the time of the Inquisition, and 11-year-old Manuel Nuñez has just learned a shocking secret from his parents: They are Jews. Having fled Portugal, the family, nominally "New Christians," live in terrible fear that their true religious convictions, practiced in tightly guarded secrecy, will be discovered. The novel, translated from the original Hebrew, does a good job of capturing the time and the dread, though a lot of explanation slows the pace. Jews caught practicing their faith were subject to severe punishment or death by fire. Complicating matters is Manuel's growing bond with the mysterious girl next door; his Christian tutor's almost-love affair with Manuel's sister; and Manuel's feeling compelled to join a local gang to hide his identity. The story moves along and ends happily with the Nuñez family escaping by sea to more tolerant Holland. Readers will feel the injustice of Manuel's and the other Jews' plight, but characterization isn't skillfully handled—some actors in the drama seem mere types—and dialogue and Manuel's first-person narration are clipped and often seem unrealistic. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >