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Gideon's People Hardcover – July 22, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (July 22, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152003037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152003036
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,564,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My first book, MISS PATCH'S LEARN-TO-SEW BOOK, published more than forty years ago, was intended to teach young girls how to knot thread, make a neat stitch, and sew simple items. The main character of my most recent book, THE WILD QUEEN, Mary, Queen of Scots, is a far cry from the roundish, gray-haired lady with a needle in her hand and spectacles on her nose. Since the thrill of seeing that first book in print, I've written over fifty more books, non-fiction and novels (most recently, historical fiction). In the process I've learned more about writing and a lot about history, a subject that was not my favorite when I was a young student but has become my passion--a passion I love to share with readers.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By terry lefkowitz ( on October 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book is good, but beware the message of the children's rejection of their religious heritage. Both the Amish and the Jewish religions are shown to be strict and both are rejected by boy's seeking freedom. Both boys find family or friends who support their decision.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie McKinzie on June 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Isaac, 12, is recuperating in the home of an Amish family in Pennsylvania Dutch country early in the 1900's. His Jewish background conflicts seriously with that of his Amish hosts. Of particular problem is diet, and observation of the Sabbath. He quickly learns of the conflict between 16 yr. old Gideon and his father.
Both young men struggle with the regulations and restrictions of their respective families. Gideon, however, is determinded to follow his dream of reading and playing music. This will mean he has to leave his family and his beloved sister, Annie. Annie seems to be a central character in this book, both for Gideon and for Isaac. She shows incredible insight and compassion.
This book deals with family conflict, religious traditions and the interactions of youth from different cultures. It might be more appropriate for the older child, since it does deal with some serious rejecting of the beliefs of the parents and needs to be discussed within a safe and informative environment such as the home first.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ( on November 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book shows are people of all different races can get along I think that it is wonderful book.
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