Adele Geras,
(Hamish Hamilton, 1983; Harcourt, 2007)

This is a tale set aboard the SS Danzig in the early 20th century. The story has many main characters as it captures several different people and their thoughts, feelings and experiences as they sail from their homes in Europe across the Atlantic to start over in America. The multiple character perspective gives the reader a deeper, more profound glimpse of ship life.

The characters range from a strong, smart and dependable 14-year-old girl to a lonely and weak 80-year-old man. All these passengers are leaving their homes for various reasons, seeking different dreams, but all have one thing in common: hope. They all hope for a better life for themselves and their families in America.

While this book is fairly short, the content is vivid and evocative. The author describes the journey in such a way that it's as easy to empathize with the passengers' emotions as it is to imagine the rocking and swaying of the boat and the horrible smells and hunger that comes from people being packed so inhumanely close together with the bare minimum of provisions.

Though this story is fictitious, it could easily be a true story. I wondered while reading how many people that came to America had these same experiences, could tell the same tales? I found myself caring for many of the characters and easily picturing their faces. At the end of the story I was hoping they found what they came here for, that's how real they seemed.

This is a heartwarming, and at times, heartbreaking tale about a group of fabulously different and wonderful people. Though I think this is more a novel geared toward young adults, as it has a study guide/chat page in the back, I think this is a book to be enjoyed by everyone. I absolutely loved it and finished it in one sitting.

review by
Cherise Everhard

26 April 2008

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