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Blood Secret Paperback – July 25, 2006
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Since her mother disappeared from a campground several years before, 14-year-old Jerry has lived in various Catholic Charities homes. The trauma of her experiences has left her with selective mutism. Although she wants to speak, she just can't get the words that form in her throat to come out. Now, she is going to live in New Mexico with her great-great-aunt, Constanza de Luna. After settling in and beginning school, Jerry discovers an old trunk in her aunt's basement. The mysterious objects within it seem to call to her, and each time she handles one of them, she is catapulted into her family's past. Brief vignettes describe the experiences of several of her ancestors, beginning with Miriam, a Jewish girl living in Seville in 1391 who witnesses the murder of her people and is baptized by force. Jerry, who has been raised Catholic, comes to realize that her ancestors were Jews, and she is upset by their heart-wrenching tales of religious persecution. Meanwhile, through her aunt's gentle manner and the understanding and acceptance of a new friend, the protagonist gradually becomes more and more socially engaged and begins to speak again. The story of Jerry's ancestors is skillfully interwoven with that of her present life. With each glimpse into her past, she is drawn more into her own family circle with her aunt. A well-told and satisfying story.–Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Gr. 6-10. Jerry Luna has not spoken since her mother disappeared when she was eight years old. Now a high-school freshman, she has left a Catholic Charities Home to live in Albuquerque with her soulful, 94-year-old great-aunt Constanza. Jerry's heart and voice begin to reawaken when she discovers an heirloom-filled trunk in Constanza's basement. With unexplained magic, the trunk "curves time back," unveiling the stories of Jerry's ancestors, beginning with Jews who suffered through the Spanish Inquisition. Although the ancestors' first-person narratives are abruptly inserted into Jerry's tale, the stories themselves tell revealing, harrowing accounts of Jewish life during the Inquisition, and later in North America. The esoteric time lapses that lead into the ancestors' stories are vague and contrived, as are some of the complicated connections between generations. Even so, Lasky's quiet, layered novel introduces history, particularly from a Jewish perspective, that's rarely covered in books for youth while asking sophisticated questions about faith, the legacy of persecution, the power of silence, and the deep mysteries of what's passed between generations. Gillian Engberg
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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Top customer reviews
It's strange to have two such powerful kind of topics - child abandonment and religious persecution - go together so well.
But through finding the history of her ancestors - the mystical way this comes about seems natural when one reads the story - Jerry finds herself and her voice. And though not all is well - historical wrongs can never be righted - the knowledge of the truth gives a sense of completion to both plots.
The character of Jerry is very well drawn - from her unwilling desire to be fashionable and accepted to her uncanny critique of Shakespeare. Her aunt - the other main character in the story, is a bit more than a supporting role, as she is as changed by Jerry as Jerry is by her.
All in all, a very good book.
As Jerry comes to know Constanza and explore her adobe house, she begins to suspect that other secrets, other voices, are buried there. When she opens a trunk in the basement, she hears children's voices...and finds herself transported to fourteenth-century Spain, seeing the world through the eyes of Miriam, the daughter of a family of lace makers. As Jerry explores the trunk's secrets, she uncovers answers to many of her questions. Why does Aunt Constanza light candles on Friday evenings? Why does she throw a piece of dough in the fire before baking her delicious bread? Why do both Jerry and Constanza rub their heads when they are anxious?
Jerry discovers a historical root for almost all her questions, and also learns that she is not the first one in her family to bury her sorrows in silence. As she learns more about her family's rich and troubled heritage, she finds herself questioning everything: her traditions, her name, even her Catholic faith. She also finally, gradually, discovers her long-buried voice again.
With BLOOD SECRET, Kathryn Lasky has constructed a compelling story that stretches across centuries. Lasky successfully creates two convincing, evocative settings: the present-day Southwest and Inquisition-era Spain. As the narrative reaches back in time, the family relationships can be a little confusing, so the extensive family tree at the back of the book is extremely useful. Although the historical passages sometimes read like a history lesson, they are effectively integrated with the modern-day setting, and dedicated readers will probably appreciate this opportunity to learn more about a little-known, sometimes gruesome period in history.
--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
While Lasky creates an interesting and likeable character in Jerry, there is some confusion about how Jerry is able to discover the stories of her ancestors. Is it a dream? Does she travel back in time? Do ghosts or spirits tell her? Or, do the stories just magically come to her? Additionally, while the family tree in the back of the book is helpful, the six different narratives from the past are difficult to follow and it is hard to figure out how they relate to each other and to Jerry. Several other novels tell the story of the Secret Jews (Secrets in the House of Delgado by Gloria Miklowitz and The Cross by Day, Mezuzzah by Night by Deborah Siegel, for example), however Lasky's story attempts to bring the history to the present day. Ages 12 and up. Reviewed by Rachel Kamin