Jewish Historical Fiction
for Older Readers:

Immigration and "The American Experience"

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Biblical Era | Middle Ages, Renaissance, & the Spanish Inquisition | Immigration & The American Experience (Page 1) (Page 2) (Page 3) (Page 4) (Page 5) | European History | Holocaust | Israel


By Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year,
  • Garden State Children's Book Award Nominee (NJ),
  • Georgia Children's Book Award Nominee

Around her the workers were screaming out prayers and curses.... She herself was sobbing tearlessly.... Her only prayer was still, "I don't want to die."

Oh, please, God, don't let me die, she thought. I've never even had a chance to live.

Bella, newly arrived in New York from Italy, gets a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. There, along with hundreds of other immigrants, she works long hours at a grueling job under terrible conditions. Yetta, a coworker from Russia, has been crusading for a union, and when factory conditions worsen, she helps workers rise up in a strike. Wealthy Jane learns of the plight of the workers and becomes involved with their cause.

Bella and Yetta are at work -- and Jane is visiting the factory -- on March 25, 1911, when a spark ignites some cloth and the building is engulfed in fire, leading to one of the worst workplace disasters ever.

Margaret Peterson Haddix draws on extensive historical research to bring the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to tangible life through her thrilling story of Bella, Yetta, and Jane.

Description from Publisher

Memories of Clason Point

By Kelly Sonnenfeld
Seen through a mist of time, tears, and love during her father's funeral, Sonnenfeld remembers the good, the bad, and the downright funny that took place in her ethnically mixed Bronx neighborhood during the Depression. The bright daughter of a deaf mother and a risk-taking, but erudite father, she finds herself in the role of her father's confidant and her mother's protector. Having escaped the persecution directed toward Jews in Hungary and sundry dismal medical diagnoses, Mr. Kellerman is optimistic and caring. Determined to feed and house lost animals, homeless men, singularly ungracious relatives, as well as his own family, he turns to distilling whiskey in his basement when hard times arrive. After the police come to make arrests, they become sympathetic friends and the judge becomes a new customer. When their home is foreclosed, Mr. Kellerman "borrows" another house from the bank, utilizes the city marshal as a mover, and, in a running battle of wits, "liberates" some gas and electricity. Eventually, however, there is a heavy price to pay, and Kelly learns that it is her fragile mother who holds the family together. Sonnenfeld's characters are enticing. With an entertaining and unerring eye for authentic detail, the author colors the period to re-create an animated reality. Pair this poignant urban autobiography with a piece of rural fiction for an interesting class project.

Description from School Library Journal

Love from Your Friend, Hannah

By Mindy Warshaw Skolsky

  • A Parenting Magazine Book of the Year
  • A finalist for the Texas Bluebonnet Award
  • A Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children
  • 01-02 Young Hoosier Book Award Masterlist (Gr 4-6)
  • 00-01 William Allen White Children's Book Award Masterlist

Readers who know the earlier Hannah novels, such as Hannah and the Whistling Teakettle and Hannah Is a Palindrome, and remember the pastel colors, gentle beauty, and nostalgic air of their dust jackets will know something's up as soon as they see the splashes of bright colors and stylized forms on the jacket of Skolsky's new novel. Still, Hannah is the same sensitive yet determined girl, though a little older and more independent now. She tells her own story through a series of letters. Spanning the months from the fall of 1937 to the summer of 1938, Hannah's correspondence includes letters to and from her Kansas pen pal Edward, her friend Aggie (who never responds to Hannah's countless letters), President Roosevelt (who always responds and sometimes sends stamps for her postage collection), Eleanor Roosevelt, Aunt Becky, Grandma, and an itinerant artist working for the WPA in Oregon. Not only are the letters lively and readable, they also offer a vivid picture of the period from Hannah's point of view. Though some will find the presidential correspondence unlikely, those who accept the premise will see it offers a broader view of Hannah's America. A fine choice for classrooms studying the 1930s, and for fans of the other Hannah books, a rewarding series of letters from an old friend.

Description from Booklist

Hamilton's chatty, spirited performance is the perfect embodiment of Hannah Diamond, the plucky heroine of Skolsky's epistolary novel. Hannah and her family are lucky to run the successful Grand View Restaurant in Grand View, N.Y., in the late 1930s, when much of the country still suffers the effects of the Great Depression. In fact, tough times are the reason Hannah's best friend, Aggie, moved away. To fill the void in Hannah's life, she begins writing letters not only to Aggie, but to her grandparents, to a new pen pal from Kansas named Edward and even to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While Aggie has yet to write back, Hannah receives a personal response from FDR that leads to a friendly correspondence with the First Family and FDR's secretary. On this finely paced recording, each letter is read by its author (with each actor assuming an appropriate tone and/or accent), drawing listeners into Hannah's many relationships. One small quibble: the actor who plays Edward has the requisite boyish enthusiasm, but his voice has a rich timbre that sounds a bit old for the part. In any event, young listeners will cheer Hannah's very modern go-getter ways and will likely be fascinated by an author's note and the tale's bountiful details about an era gone by.

Description from Publishers Weekly

You're the Best, Hannah!

By Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
It's springtime in Grand View!

And as always, there's a lot going on. As well as serving square hamburgers and pie a la mode at her family's restaurant, Hannah is getting her new dog, Skippy, ready for the dog show, listing to her favorite radio program, and watching Shirley Temple tap-dance across the big screen. Hannah is also busy helping her father paint he Grand View Restaurant, in the hope that this year they will win the best prize of all.

But no matter how carefully Hannah plans for all the adventures that springtime brings, life is full of surprises. Aunt Becky makes an unexpected visit with some very unusual gifts, and Skippy has his own rules for the dog show. It's going to take one remarkable girl to make sure everything turns out for the best.

Description from Publisher

Formerly published as The Best Father on Route 9W, this old-fashioned novel set in rural New York in the 1930s reflects both a former era and a former era of leisurely told and quietly plotted stories. Hannah's family runs a roadside restaurant and hopes to win a prize for being the Most Attractive Place along the highway by painting blue and white checkerboard designs on the façade. But the judges are put off by the tacky appearance. So Hannah awards her father his own certificate and everyone has ice cream while planning next year's appearance. "Let's Pretend," Milton Cross, and the operas are on the radio, a quirky and overenthusiastic aunt gets off the bus for a visit, the dog Skippy creates havoc at the dog show, and so on.

Description from Children's Literature

The Gold Coin: A Story About New York City's Lower East Side

By Pamela J. Dell
This fiction series brings historical events to life for young readers. In these stories, Pamela J. Dell tells the story of young people caught up in the events of their day. Each period and its characters come vividly to life. Written for upper elementary children, the stories and the events behind them were chosen for their curricular relevance. Each book, designed to look like a scrapbook put together by the story's main character, includes additional facts and information in the margins of each page. Backmatter helps extend the books across the curriculum. Writing activities encourage readers to create their own historical fiction. The craft activity section shows readers how to make their own personal scrapbooks. The oral history or community activity helps readers discover history in their own families or towns.

Description from Publisher

Sparks Fly Upward

By Carol Matas
Family means everything to 12-year-old Rebecca Bernstein. Even after a fire destroys their farm and the family must relocate to the bustling city of Winnipeg, Rebecca feels safe and happy as long as everyone is together. But life is hard in the city, and Papa cannot find work. Rebecca's greatest fears are realized when she is sent into foster care until Papa can earn more money. She is terrified to discover that she'll be living with a Ukrainian family—Jews and Ukrainians were archenemies in the old country. What if the Kostianuks hate her?

Rebecca discovers an unexpected soulmate in Sophie, the Kostianuks' daughter. Normally shy, Rebecca soon finds herself battling prejudice both in the schoolyard and at home in order to protect the forbidden friendship. Fighting anti-Semitism, Rebecca comes to appreciate what faith means to her and learns some important truths about her parents' personal and spiritual sacrifices.

Description from Publisher

When their farmhouse burns to the ground, Rebecca Bernstein's family must leave their comfortable Jewish farming community in Saskatchewan and move to Winnipeg. Because her theater-loving father refuses to take just any job and there isn't enough room for the large extended family in the small storefront her grandfather finds, the 12-year-old is sent into foster care with a neighboring family. Worse yet, the Kostaniuks are Ukrainian and very Christian. Although Sophie Kostaniuk, who shares Rebecca's love for reading, could easily be her best friend, Sophie's brother Sasha and her father hate Jews, and fights break out at school between Sasha and Rebecca's favorite uncles, Max and Sam. Scarlet fever brings the two girls closer and they cement their friendship when they rescue small children from a fire in the quarantine hospital where they've been sent. Then Sasha attacks Max with a knife, and Rebecca's grandfather removes her from the foster home and forbids her to see Sophie. How can the timid girl go against him? Good advice comes from the rabbi, who helps her see her own courage and find a way to maintain her friendship and ease the enmity between the boys. The complexity of different approaches to Judaism is dramatized in this large and loving family whose difficulties are typical of immigrants to the U.S. as well as Canada in the early 20th century. The less familiar historical and cultural setting is clearly described. This satisfying friendship story should appeal to middle-grade readers, especially girls.

Description from School Library Journal


By Lois Ruby
Based on the discovery of oil at Spindletop near Beaumont, this middle reader story is rich in details of turn of the century American, Texan, and Jewish life, race relations, and modern longings of young women for careers of adventure beyond marriage. Ketzl and Yaakov narrowly escape dangers to Jews in Russia to arrive in Galveston in 1901 and assume their new American identities as Kitty and Jake.

Description from Publisher

Faraway Summer

By Johanna Hurwitz
Dossi Rabinowitz, 12, a poor Jewish orphan, is excited and nervous when she leaves her crowded tenement in New York City for a two-week Fresh Air Fund summer vacation on a farm in Jericho, Vermont, in 1910. Her immigrant parents are dead, and she lives with her older sister, Ruthie, who works in a garment factory to support them. Of course, the farm family is warm and welcoming, and we know that the initial tension between Dossi and one of the farm children will be worked out. Mary Azarian's occasional small woodcuts in black and white help create a sense of the period, and the first encounters between town and country, Jew and Christians, make it easy for Hurwitz to include lots of social historical detail, as Dossi tells them about how things are different in the city and they teach her how to milk a cow, pick raspberries, and watch the stars. The warm characterization will keep readers interested in a story that shows how the hosts as well as the visitor benefit from the encounter with the stranger.

Description from Booklist

Dear Emma

By Johanna Hurwitz
After spending a Fresh Air Fund vacation discovering a new world on a Vermont farm, Dossi thought that returning home to the bustling New York of 1910 would be simple. Little did she know that, even in. a familiar place, there are new things to experience: Her sister, Ruthi, is to be married, and they are to move out of their one room into Ruthi's husband's apartment -- where Dossi will have her own space!

But as independent Dossi learns, adjusting to life with her new brother-in-law -- and his rules -- is not always easy. As she writes to Emma, a friend she made in Vermont, she reveals her frustrations, her fears about her new life, and her dreams for the future. Soon she finds that, no matter where she is, she has much to discover inside herself.

Readers who are already acquainted with Dossi from Faraway Summer and those meeting her for the first time will root for her as she moves through an eventful thirteenth year in this affecting story.

Description from Publisher

The Cat Who Escaped from Steerage: A Bubbemeiser

By Evelyn Wilde Mayerson
The cat in question is Pitsel, a stray adopted by nine-year-old Chanah when her family passed through Marseilles on their way from Poland to America. The year is 1910, the family is poor, and steerage is the only passage they can afford. But Chanah has worries beyond the discomforts of the ship. Traveling with them is a young cousin, Yaacov, who is deaf and may be turned back at Ellis Island, and Pitsel might be turned back as well. When the cat disappears, Chanah begins a desperate search that takes her into the heady heights of the third-class deck and beyond with Yaacov, who communicates with her by gesture, as her chief ally. The story moves along briskly, and conveys a good sense of what travel was like for millions of immigrants. Attention has been paid to characterization, even of bit players. Adults may remain skeptical of the climactic scene in which Chanah successfully battles immigration officials and wins entry for Yaacov, but children will enjoy her triumphs. A nicely written addition to historical-fiction collections

Description from School Library Journal

The Tenement Writer: An Immigrant's Story

By Ben Sonder
Follows a young Jewish immigrant from Poland as she struggles to build a new life in America and fulfill her dreams of becoming a writer.

Description from Publisher

The courage, commitment, and vision of individuals both famous and ordinary are celebrated through stories that reveal the rich, multicultural tapestry of the American experience. The texts, most of which incorporate material from primary sources, such as letters and journals, are based on historical fact. "A Matter of Conscience" and "A Place Called Heartbreak" are the most compelling of the solid, but not outstanding, books. Competent black-and-white drawings illustrate the selections.

Description from Horn Book

The Summer of Oz

By Rita E. Piro
The Summer of Oz tells the story of Tessie DiMartino, a twelve year-old Italian-Catholic girl living in Brooklyn, N.Y., who learns the importance of faith, family and friends when she befriends a Jewish girl whose family recently escaped Nazi Germany.

Set during the summer of 1939, the backdrop to the story, and the impetus for the book's title, finds Tessie and her friends eagerly awaiting the opening of The Wizard of Oz, as well as the results of a contest which they have all entered whereby the winner will get to meet the star of the film, Judy Garland, then the nation's top female teen idol, at a special party to be held at the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

While the characters are all fictional, the 1939 background setting is based upon actual historical/newsreel events, including the opening of the film The Wizard of Oz at NYC's Capitol Theatre on August 17, 1939, as well as the contest to meet the star of the film,Judy Garland. But these are not the only historical touches to the book. The Summer of Oz accurately recreates the day to day existence of 1939 Brooklyn, New York and the rest of the nation, complete with actual stores, movie houses, fashions and fads, radio shows, movies, actors and actresses, commercial brands, prices, as well as local and national events as they were. Included is a nostalgic description of the 1939 Worlds Fair and its then astounding look into the future.

1939 was one of the most pivotal years of the 20th Century. The Depression was coming to an end, mainly because of increasing war production, and the economy was on the upswing. The Worlds Fair had just opened in April, Hollywood was churning out more movies than ever before, Swing ruled the airwaves, Americans were being exposed to all sorts of new gadgets and inventions, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was enjoying tremendous popularity. Most of all, the conflict in Europe was heating up, and as Hitler's invasion of Poland grew increasingly likely and reports of Nazi atrocities filled the papers, Americans could no longer maintain an isolationist attitude. The summer of 1939 would ultimately be the last summer of peace for a long time and everyone was affected by the events taking place in Europe.

The Summer of Oz is the first in a series of books featuring the adventures of Tessie DiMartino as she grows up in Brooklyn, New York during World War II. The books will cover the period from 1939 until the end of the war in 1945. Tessie and her friends will have gone from eighth grade to high school graduation and each book will feature a specific theme.

Description from Publisher

Once I Was a Plum Tree

By Johanna Hurwitz
Once Gerry's family name Pflaumenbaum, Which means "plum tree" in German. Now, it's jusy plain Flam, which means nothing at all.

"What religion are you?" is the worst thing anyone could ask ten-year-old Geraldine Flam. Gerry, growing up in the Bronx just after the Second World War, doesn't have any religion at all." We are assimilated," Gerry's father tells her. But Gerry wants more. Here's a funny and warm story about belonging -- to a particular community and to the world.

Increasingly aware of the differences between her family, who are nonobservant Jews, and their Catholic neighbors, 10-year-old Gerry Flam begins to investigate her heritage.

Description from Publisher

I Should Worry, I Should Care

By Miriam Chaikin
I Should Worry, I Should Care is the first in a series of five novels for young readers that won critical acclaim and awards for Miriam Chaikin. All five books are about Molly and her family and friends in a Brooklyn neighborhood around the time of World War II. Molly and her friends play out their young girl interests against the background of those troubled times.

Description from Publisher

Getting Even

By Miriam Chaikin
Molly, a young Jewish girl growing up in the Brooklyn of the 1940's, explores the power of friendship and jealousy.

Description from Publisher

There is lots of warmth here and plenty of color in Chaikin's evocation of an early 1940s Brooklyn neighborhood. Molly is hurt and angry when her best friend Tsippi seems to avoid her in favor of playing with Big Naomi. To get back at Tsippi, Molly lets it be known that Tsippi's parents are Communists, a fact that both embarrasses Tsippi and causes schoolmates to call her parents spies

Description from Booklist

East Side Story

By Bonnie Bader
Like many immigrant children of the early 1900s, Rachel, 11, and her teenage sister Leah work in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on the Lower East Side of New York City. This simple-to-read historical novel effectively portrays issues pertinent to the time period. Through Rachel's experience, readers see the courage and determination, success and failure of the workers' efforts to unionize for better and safer working conditions. At the same time, the Jewish heroine befriends an Italian boy, the brother of one of the factory girls involved in the organizing. Their very different backgrounds are a minor concern as they learn from one another and develop a bonding relationship. Lastly, the reasoning behind child labor laws and equal education for boys and girls is nicely interwoven throughout the story. A postscript gives further information about the events in the book. A worthy addition.

Description from School Library Journal

Dear Hope ... Love, Grandma
Letters between a grandmother and granddaughter describe Jewish life in St. Louis at the beginning of the 20th century.

Fire! :
The Beginnings of the Labor Movement
(Once upon America)

by Barbara Diamond Goldin
The 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York is seen through the eyes of Rosie, 11. The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, she wishes she could quit school and work in the factory like her older sister, whose descriptions of the brutal and dangerous working conditions do little to quell Rosie's desire. The sudden and disastrous fire that rips through the factory killing 146 workers opens her eyes, both to the labor movement's need to seize the opportunity for change, and to her own need to stay in school. Goldin details, with simplicity, the hardships of daily life in the Lower East Side garment district without becoming maudlin or melodramatic. Rosie and her friends will appeal to readers looking for a good story as well as to those needing information on the era. A short addendum gives more information on the fire and its aftermath, although nothing is footnoted or documented. Atmospheric black-and-white drawings punctuate the chapters. Students needing more traditional re search materials can try Zachary Kent's The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire, which includes numerous photographs, or John Flagler's The Labor Movement in the United States, aimed at a slightly older audience, which chronicles the rise and current decline of labor unions in general.

Description from School Library Journal

Faraway Summer

By Johanna Hurwitz
In 1910, a 12-year-old Jewish girl from New York's Lower East Side spends two weeks with a Vermont family through the Fresh Air Fund. Dossi, short for Hadassah, lives in a tenement room with her older sister and knows only the sights and smells of her crowded community. She takes two library books with her on the long train journey to help dispel her fears, but finds that her sponsors are warm and sharing people. Each experience on the Meades' farm is new for Dossi: the size of cows, the wonder of fireflies in the night, and the quantity of food on the table. There are mild cultural differences. The Vermonters have never seen a Jew and Dossi, although non-observant, will not eat pork or mix meat and milk products. Still, she becomes friends with the two girls in the family and helps to save a neighbor's livestock when a barn catches fire. Told through Dossi's journal entries, this is a pleasant story. It has a happy ending and the added interest of an actual historical person, Wilson Alwyn Bentley, who first photographed snowflakes.

Description from School Library Journal

Make Me a Hero

By Jerome Brooks
Make Me A Hero chronicles the struggle to survive of the forgotten generation: those too young to fight in World War II, but not old enough to have survived it unaffected by the detritus gathering in its wake. The ALA Booklist says, "Brooks' portrayal of a boy groping his way to maturity and self-esteem is impressive, but what makes this book shine is the writing--fresh, probing, and uncompromising. What must have been an autobiographical germ has been shaped into a rich, perceptive story. Jake's heart and mind are real and the lessons he learns will endure."

Description from Publisher I read Make Me A Hero, by Jerome Brooks. The main characters in the book were Jake Ackerman and Harry Katz. Jack is sort of a follower and Harry has his own personality. He is daring and confident in himself. The story took place in San Francisco. It was 1941, during the World War II days. The plot of the book is having Jake's brothers go off to the war and leave him at home with his family. During that time, Jake gets bossed around by the "gruesome threesome"-bullies. The conflict gets resolved by a little fighting, and eventually it sort of played itself out. The Bar Mitzvah gets postponed when Jake comes down with pneumonia. When he gets over it they have the Bar Mitzva.

Description from Customer Review

Friends Forever

By Miriam Chaikin
As news of German victories and Nazi atrocities against the Jews comes over the radio, Molly faces important decisions as she and her Brooklyn friends prepare to enter junior high school.

Description from Publisher

Homesteading in Wyoming in the early 1900's, a Jewish mother develops an unusual relationship with a colt she adopts named Berchick.

Description from Publisher

Strudel Stories

By Joanne Rocklin
In this nostalgic collection of stories, three generations of strudel makers share personal histories with children of the next generation. These stories are presented as the secret ingredient to an excellent homemade strudel. In Sarah's kitchen, we hear tales of Eastern European Jewry involving a little boy who cheated death twice. In Bertie's kitchen, we hear about the immigration of a little girl who had the courage to turn her coat inside out when the feared Ellis Island medical inspector marked her with the dreaded chalk "X." Willy, a grandfather with a gift in the kitchen and a huge love for baseball, tells about the orphaned refugee boy accepted into his family after the Holocaust. Classroom teachers could use this book as a resource for an immigration unit. The stories are very sweet, like the pastry they are named for. Several segments discuss the mechanics of strudel making and depict children helping in the kitchen, waiting to be entertained by stories.

Description from Children's Literature

Mixing memories of her own relatives' stories with a bit of history and imagination, Rocklin makes her Jewish family come alive in these warm, humorous selections.... As a read-aloud, this book is sure to inspire families to share their own memories and recipes. Strudel Stories is an excellent choice for oral history and intergenerational projects, as well as for immigration units, and pairs well with Kathryn Lasky's Dreams in the Golden Country, which also documents the Jewish immigrant experience.

Description from School Library Journal, (starred review)

Marven of the Great North Woods
In her picture book, the author tells a true story. Sent to the Great North Woods of Minnesota to protect him from the 1918-19 influenza epidemic, young Marven Lasky was given the job of bookkeeping for a logging camp. The woods were an alien world to this homesick Jewish city child-loggers, huge trees, bears, no Kosher food-but with the help of the burly Jean Louis, he began to feel less alone. Kevin Hawkes' beautiful illustrations bring the atmosphere of the frozen North Woods to life. Highly recommended.

Description from Children's Literature
Call Me Ruth
Call Me Ruth

By Marilyn Sachs
An eight-year-old Russian Jewish girl newly arrived in New York City in 1908 is torn between her mother's increasingly radical union involvement and her desire to embrace contemporary American ways.

Gideon's People

by Carolyn Meyer
Torn between youthful rebellion and their traditional heritages, two boys from very different cultures--one Amish, one Orthodox Jew--discover just how similar they really are.

Description from Publisher

With the help of Isaac, an Orthodox Jew, sixteen-year-old Gideon leaves his Amish farm and family to find a less restrictive way of life. The coming-of-age story, set in Pennsylvania in 1911, is full of details about two cultures that are rich in both tradition and regulation. Meyer addresses universal themes -- struggle against family and emerging individuality -- and presents two distinct responses.

Description from Horn Book

Now here's a switch. Twelve-year-old Isaac Litvak, an Orthodox Jew, wakes up after a wagon accident in the home of an Amish family. Really. After all, how many stories have you read where the two conflicting cultures are Orthodox Jews and the Amish? The novelty of this unique clash of cultures makes for a most interesting and provocative read. Trouble begins when Gideon, the sixteen-year-old son in this kind Amish family, announces to his new-found friend, Isaac, that he is secretly planning to run away. Gideon is rebelling from his traditional Amish responsibilities - preparing for his baptism, getting married, and settling down. Gideon's sister Annie, however, begs Isaac to help her prevent Gideon from running away. If Gideon leaves, Annie explains, his Amish family will have to shun him. Isaac, an Orthodox Jew, knows all too well the rigors of rituals as he struggles to come to grips with the need to balance family traditions and personal freedoms.

Description from ALAN Review

At B.A.T.T
A group of boys find much to do in their Talmud Torah in New York just after the second World War. Follow them along and share in their adventures.

Description from Publisher

Manya's Story :
Faith and Survival in Revolutionary Russia

By Bettyanne Gray
The Polevois were a Jewish family who lived peacefully in a small community, or shtetl, in the Russian Ukraine in the early 1900s. Suddenly and violently, the shtetl and its inhabitants were caught in a recurring nightmare that had haunted European Jews for centuries--pogrom, the brutal and unprovoked destruction of Jewish lives and property. Ukrainian Jews became helpless victims in the three-sided struggle for power among the Bolshevik Red Army, the anti-Bolshevik White Army, and the forces fighting for Ukrainian independence. Manya and her family were forced to flee for their lives. Manya's journey brought her to the U.S., where she, her husband, and their child found a safe haven and a new life. This dramatic account of Manya's ordeal is written by Bettyanne Gray, Manya's American-born daughter, in memory of her valiant mother and of the countless others who lived and died in the shtetls of revolutionary Russia.

Description from Publisher

A riveting saga of the author's parents' harrowing escape from the Ukraine during the Russian Revolution. Ukrainian Jews were caught in the middle of the struggle for power between three forces: the Bolshevik Red Army, the anti-Bolshevik White Army, and the forces fighting for Ukrainian independence. The clearly written, vivid, chronological account provides a good balance between political background and personal story. There are graphic descriptions of the indignities inflicted on individual family members, which add to the power of the narrative. Many books concern Hitler's time of persecution, but Manya's Story demonstrates that the severe oppression of Jews had begun many years before. The short length and glossary of Yiddish and Hebrew terms make it accessible. This new edition (the first was published by Lerner in 1978) is the same as the old except for the addition of black-and-white photographs of family members, a list of Gray's relations who survived, and an updated prologue. A compelling, poignant account that readers won't be able to put down until the end

Description from School Library Journal A gripping and unusually detailed account of the raw horrors suffered by the author's mother's family between 1917 and 1921, this book weaves history seamlessly into the tale. Caught between Russian Red Bolsheviks, White Russians, Ukrainians and the German Army, Jewish families fortunate enough to survive at all escaped at the price of lives permanently scarred by unspeakable, clearly described atrocities. The reader cannot avoid the stark contrast between 21-year-old Manya's pleasant life as a well-to-do young woman concerned with boyfriends and silk gowns and that of a desperate refugee, fleeing with nothing but infant in arms and wild-eyed terror. Miraculously reunited with her husband after nearly losing her son to a severe head injury and then to an avaricious smuggler, Manya eventually arrives in the United States and carves out a new life. But she doesn't shield her children from her terrible story and supports charitable endeavors as a remembrance to those who were swept away for no reason other than having been born Jews.

Description from Children's Literature

Biblical Era | Middle Ages, Renaissance, & the Spanish Inquisition | Immigration & The American Experience (Page 1) (Page 2) (Page 3) (Page 4) (Page 5) | European History | Holocaust | Israel

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