TO BUILD A LAND by Sally Watson


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Two spirited and successful historical novels for the early teens, Highland Rebel and Mistress Malapert, precede this, which is entirely different in time and setting but similar in its theme of struggling against the odds for a new and Creer way of life. The narrative begins in Naples in 1947 where 15 year old Leo Morelli and his younger sister Mia, Italian Jews, are typical of the thieving, conniving, frightened ragamuffins created by war and terrorism. Through an accident and the help of a CI, they are sent to a training camp in France to prepare them to become citizens of Israel. The story from here on deals with many young people and many situations. Though dominating and self-willed Leon and the very dependent and fearful Mia remain central figures, we are introduced to other important people- spoiled Shari, a Bombay girl who captures Mia's admiration, and Leo's jealous hatred, because she is so independent; Dan, the quiet Dutch boy who finds he is a pacifist and cannot fight the Arabs when they attack the children's camp near Tel Aviv to which they are all sent; and the other people in the camp, directors and youngsters, each with different problems and backgrounds. The complex splintering of issues in the newly evolving State are made clear too, especially through Shari's friendship with Mustapha, an Arab who believes in the brotherhood of all men, and her continued friendship with Mia as it has meaning for Leo's realization that cooperation and respect for others have their place in life too. More of a chronicle than a novel, but exciting and edifying.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1957
Publisher: Holt