From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—Tiddy, 12, can't understand why she is being forced to leave her beloved family to go and live in a strange land. By 1938, anti-Semitism has taken hold in Germany and the Westerfields, "an old and once respected Jewish family of Stockstadt," are suddenly "filthy Jews." Grandmother refuses to leave, but Vati and Mutti fear for the lives of their daughters, so they send Betty to a family in Chicago. A year later Tiddy is put on a ship to America to live with her Onkel Jacob. She soon finds that her aunt and cousin do not want her there, and that her sister lives too far away to visit often. From her first day in her new home and school, Tiddy is stripped of her identity and connection to her homeland. She is horrified when Aunt Mildred throws away her beautiful handmade blouse. She faces the humiliation of being placed in first grade at the age of 12 because she can't speak English. The final cord is severed when her parents die in a concentration camp. The author has "given voice" to her mother, Edith Westerfield, in this fictionalized account of her immigration experience. In doing so, Chapman has created an engaging memoirlike novel.—Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
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*Starred Review* Chapman based this spare historical novel on her mother’s experience of coming to America to escape Nazi persecution. At age 12, Edith is sent by her German Jewish parents to relatives on Chicago’s South Side in 1937. Oppressed by her aunt, who makes Edith work as a maid, and teased at school, where she starts off in first grade until she learns English, Edith suffers prejudice, including anti-Semitism in the girls’ locker room (“Dirty Jew!”); and after the U.S. declares war, other children view her as an “enemy alien” and call her “Dirty Kraut.” Even worse, she receives almost no word from her parents, until the final shocking news about the camps comes in 1945. In Edith’s bewildered, sad, angry voice, the words are eloquent and powerful. Did her parents want to get rid of her? Why does her older sister, also in Chicago, not call? Just as heartbreaking is an early letter from her mother: “I open the door and no one is there.” On a lighter note, baseball helps Edith, and her hero, Hank Greenberg, inspires her to take pride in her Jewish heritage. As with the best writing, the specifics about life as a young immigrant are universal, including the book’s title, which is drawn from a quote by a Sudanese immigrant “Lost Boy” who arrived in the U.S. in 2001. Grades 6-10. --Hazel Rochman