Kirkus Star


A Jewish Immigration Story for Young Adults
Age Range: 10 - 14
Email this review


Twelve-year-old Raizel chafes under the strict gender roles that govern daily life in her Ukrainian shtetl in 1905, but she is nonetheless reluctant to leave when her father decides that she, of all the family’s children, should accompany him to America. Their journey is difficult, but more rigorous than the physical hardships are the challenges to Jewish orthodoxy they encounter along the way: Finding kosher food is so difficult, for instance, that her father refuses all nourishment during the Atlantic crossing. It is when they are refused entry at Ellis Island and sent back to Europe, however, that their faith is tested the most. Raizel is the perfect vehicle for the narrative, her yearning to read never leading to anachronistic feistiness, just an appropriately Jewish desire to interrogate the world around her and to question just how a Jew can fit into the universe beyond the shtetl. Her love of stories—that weave throughout the narrative—serves as both release from the terrors of the double crossing and prism for her spiritual quest. Outstanding in both its structure and its questioning of faith, this offering is not to be missed. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-938317-94-6
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Cinco Puntos
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2005