From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9?In this novel set at the turn of the century, two boys?one Orthodox Jew and the other Amish?are brought together by chance. When Isaac Litvak, 12, is injured on an Amish farm, his Jewish peddler father leaves him behind to recuperate with the whispered reminder, "Remember who you are." Though kind and well-meaning, the foreign-speaking family's eating habits and religious laws are strange. Also, Isaac senses anger and tension. Gideon Stolzfus, 16, chafes under the rigid tenets of his family's local sect, and plans to run away to his uncle's more lenient community. His sister Annie finds his secret stash of "englische" clothes, a forbidden copy of Treasure Island, and a harmonica. She fears losing him forever and begs Isaac to help her persuade Gideon to stay. Deft characterizations and juxtaposition of fathers and sons amplify similarities and differences between the families and cultures. Gideon's stern, unyielding father illustrates the vast emotional chasm that results from a heavy-handed approach in parent/teen relations, universally, in any culture, at any time. While Isaac's faith is not tested in abusive circumstances, as it is with the Amish teen, worldly interactions complicate matters. Many of the complex issues raised here are explored in greater depth in Kathryn Lasky's Beyond the Divide (Macmillan, 1983) or Chaim Potok's The Chosen (Fawcett, 1987).?Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville War Memorial High School, NJ
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5^-7. Two deeply religious cultures bound by strict laws are thrown together when Isaac, an Orthodox Jewish boy, recovers from injuries at an Amish farm in 1911. Similarities between Yiddish and Pennsylvania Dutch make communication possible, allowing 12-year-old Isaac to pick up on a family rift. Annie, who is also 12, explains that 16-year-old Gideon plans to leave the community before his baptism, though he knows that if he does he will be shunned. A vivid setting and the slow unfolding of the relationship between Isaac and Annie are Meyer's strong suits. However, the story's conflict between Gideon and his father seems one-dimensional, and Meyer may fall into cultural stereotyping by depicting the Amish family as stern and uncommunicative and the Jewish family as exuberant and loving. Susan Dove Lempke