From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–Ever since her mother died of smallpox, 10-year-old Molly Abraham has survived on the streets of 1730s London by picking pockets. She is caught, and her sentence is indentured servitude in America until the age of 21. She dreads the new land, which is occupied, she has heard, by Salvages who had faces in their bellies and no heads. When the Good Intention
docks in New York, a Jewish merchant, Mr. Bell, buys her. With only a vague memory of being Jewish herself, the street-savvy girl has a lot to learn about personal hygiene (she fears a bath will drown her brain), household chores, keeping kosher, and reading. The kindly Bells and their children also teach her about trust, hard work, and mitzvahs, or good deeds. Though initially fearful and determined to get back to England, in the end she chooses to help an abused slave escape rather than look after herself. Molly's choices can be judged against those of her foil, Hesper Crudge, a far less likable young exile in similar straits. Both girls patter Flash–speak the secret dialect of London thieves. Consequently, readers will need to consult the glossary quite often, which could prove inconvenient. Still, this is an engaging tale about some lesser-known aspects of 18th-century life, with memorable characters. An author's note provides additional background about pickpockets and prisons in London, as well as about the lives of Jews, indentured servants, and slaves in colonial New York.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
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In 1730, 10-year-old London orphan Molly Abraham is exiled to America for being a pickpocket. After a long, unpleasant journey, independent Molly is indentured to an observant Jewish family, the Bells, in New York. The Bells seem nice, but Molly finds adjusting difficult. Although she learns to keep house and to read, and learns about Judaism, she longs to go back to London. Her experiences, including meeting an abused African American slave, gradually sharpen and shift her perspective, bringing ethical dilemmas but also compassion and an understanding of the complexities of freedom, doing what's right, and her Jewish heritage. Written in vividly detailed prose, this debut novel introduces an engaging protagonist while immersing readers in Jewish culture and customs, rough London streets, and eighteen-century New York City. Molly's London street dialect enhances vintage cultural flavor, and an author's note provides more historical background. Enjoyable and sometimes thought-provoking historical fiction. Shelle RosenfeldCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved