From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–As conditions worsen for Jews in Eastern Europe in 1905, 11-year-old Raizel accompanies her father to America. Traveling by wagon, train, and on foot, they arrive in Antwerp to board the ship to New York. When they finally arrive at Ellis Island, Benjamin's shabby appearance, persistent cough, and emaciated body cause the inspector to declare him liable to become a public charge and unfit to enter America. Raizel and her father receive passage to return home. With the help of kind strangers, he makes the difficult decision to give up his Orthodox Jewish way of life–shaving his beard and eating unkosher food–for a second chance at entering America. This theme of assimilation as the only means for survival may trouble some readers. With treacherous boat trips and interesting secondary characters, Tal's fictionalized account of her grandfather's journey to America is fast paced, full of suspense, and highly readable. Similar to other immigrant stories such as Karen Hesse's Letters from Rifka
(Holt, 1992) and Kathryn Lasky's The Night Journey
(Puffin, 1986), Double Crossing
offers the unique perspective of immigrants who were denied admission into America.–Rachel Kamin, Temple Israel Libraries & Media Center, West Bloomfield, MI
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*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. Based on the experience of the author's grandfather at the turn of the twentieth century, this novel starts off as the archetypal Jewish coming-to-America story. Raizel, 12, leaves the Ukraine with her father, a devout peddler who flees pogroms and conscription into the czar's army, intending to send for the rest of his family later. The separation, the trauma, the dream of golden America, the journey across Europe, the ocean voyage, the inspections and arrival at Ellis Island--the historical detail is dense. But Raizel's lively first-person narrative is anything but reverential. She misses her brother, but she is jealous because he gets to go to school, and she resents her father's keeping kosher, which means they stay hungry during the journey in the crowded ship. Her view of adults and kids, family and strangers, back home and on the perilous adventure, brings the people on the journey very close. Best of all is the shocking surprise that changes everything, even Papa--a haunting aspect of the immigrant story left too^B long untold. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved