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Freedom Beyond the Sea Mass Market Paperback – March 11, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7-9-Though uneven in intensity and characterization, this absorbing story unfolds with intrigue, suspense, and adventure. Esther Marchadi, 16, is trying to escape persecution in Spain. She manages to sign on with Columbus as a ship's boy, renamed Pedro, and the challenge of keeping her gender and the fact that she is Jewish a secret underlies the tension of the story. Her strength and determination develop slowly, and it is well into the story that readers discover the haunting atrocities she has witnessed. Many of the theories about Columbus are significantly woven in, especially that he had Jewish ancestry. However, there are elements in the story that are not quite believable. Esther adjusts to the routine and learns her tasks on the Santa Maria extremely well and quickly. Her crush on Columbus seems as out of place in the story as his squelching his own physical attraction to her after she confesses her true identity. Also the extensive historical information is presented in a heavy-handed way that, at times, interrupts the narrative's flow. However, in spite of these shortcomings the story is a good one. Because Esther knows her life is in danger on the ship, she gets off in Gran Canaria. She has achieved a degree of freedom and readers are left to wonder what will become of her.

Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-9. Lean and scruffy, Lewin's narrator seems like any other Catholic cabin boy aching to escape the summer heat of 1492 coastal Spain in favor of the high seas. But as the gifted German author soon illustrates, things are not always what they seem. Esther is neither a cabin boy nor a Catholic. She is a frightened young Jewess, the daughter of Cordoba's rabbi--desperately hoping to slip past the murderous Spanish Inquisition by way of Christopher Columbus' fleet. The masquerade and the experiences Esther faces make for an intriguing story, which Lewin delivers in tender, vivid prose that adds depth, detail, and personal perspective to the history. A familiar historical fiction convention, skillfully decked out here. Kelly Halls
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (March 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440228689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440228684
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Sixteen-year-old Esther watched in horror as her father was led away to be burned at the stake. For the year was 1492, the place Spain, the Inquisition was determined to cleanse the country of all non-Christians, and Esther and her father were Jewish. Through a bribe, Esther obtains a place on the Santa Maria, under the alliance of Pedro, a Christian boy. Esther doesn't know where the ship is going and she doesn't care. All she wants is to get as far away from Spain as possible. At every moment, she fears that someone will discover that she is a Jew, a girl, or both. I had high expectations for this book, and was rather disappointed. The plot was paper thin at times, the characters cardboard cutouts, and the romance just made me queasy. It's not the very worst book I've ever read, but it isn't really any good, either.
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By KidsReads on July 12, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A 16 year-old orphaned boy named Pedro is on the Santa Maria ship on a voyage to find a new route to India. He has signed on as a cabin boy with the expedition and hopes to find a new life outside of his home in Spain. But Pedro is hiding some dreadful secrets. One of those is that Pedro is the child of the Rabbi of Cordoba and is fleeing Spain, as are many other Jews, due to the Spanish Inquisition and the terrible decrees of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Want to know another secret? Pedro is a really a girl named Esther.
Esther's father valued learning --- she can read and write Latin, unlike many of the other sailors. This knowledge earns her a job working as a personal servant for the admiral, Christopher Columbus. But Columbus is a hard master and particularly good at snooping out the lies and trickery in his crew. Now Esther/Pedro must be extremely careful. Will the crew members to find out her secrets and turn her in? Read this exciting book to find out!
I especially liked this book because right now we're learning about Christopher Columbus and other famous explorers in history class, and I think that they're interesting to learn about. FREEDOM BEYOND THE SEA was also very interesting as it gave lots of information about the ways Jews were treated in Europe long ago ---which up until now I didn't know anything about. Esther is a very strong girl character and a brave hero for anyone. FREEDOM BEYOND THE SEA is an exciting read because it is full of adventure and you know what is going to happen next!
(...)
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