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Showing 11-20 of 97 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 152 reviews
What happens when a young woman (16) learns that her entire life has been a lie? This is what happens to Estrella di Madrigal in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition.

She watches as those around her are arrested, tortured, and put to death because they are Conversos (Jews who have converted to Christianity). She feels for them but is happy that she and her family attend the Christian church headed by Friar DeLeon and that her brother is a seminarian.

Estrella's best friend and neighbor is Catalina. They have been close since birth but it is Catalina's cousin Andres, who lives with Catalina's family, that ultimately causes the rift between the two girls. Catalina has always believed that she and Andres would be married. But Andres sees Catalina as a sister while he looks at Estrella in love.

With the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition as a backdrop, Estrella soon learns from her honored grandfather that she is Esther, that her entire family are Marranos (Jews converted to Christianity but who practice judaism in secret). Because of Estrella's love for Andres and his for her, Catalina and her family betray the Madrigals; Estrella watches from the shadows of the crowds as her family is first denounced, then tortured, and finally put to death. She is the only one to escape.

This book is short but packs a mighty punch. Easy enough to read in one sitting but don't, no matter how much you are tempted. Take time to digest what you are reading here. Although meant for the younger reader, most adults should find this a compelling story. A word of caution: the descriptions of the torture of the Marranos is very detailed and vivid and may not sit well with the squeamish.

Different from Alice Hoffman's other novels, I found this one nevertheless equally as good. Ms. Hoffman hasn't disappointed me yet.
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on May 3, 2017
Loved the intertwining Kabbalah images with those of persecution. "Be yourself, save your soul ". Excellent read. Read in a few unforgettable hours
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on April 7, 2017
Beautifully written as always, Alice Hoffman transports you to another world and time with her poetic style. She is masterful at creating her visual imagery.
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on February 22, 2017
I love the way Alice Hoffman writes and was enjoying this book when suddenly it just seemed to abruptly end. I felt there were some loose ends that could have been tied up. I guess I should have looked to see how many pages long it was before purchasing. For the price you pay for this, it was way too short.
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on September 3, 2013
This is a powerful story about the Inquisition and
how it affects one family in particular. I flew through
this book even though the subject matter
is difficult but it is important to be aware of this part
of history. I would love to have this book be 200 pages
longer to allow more information and research to be
brought forth but it is primarily written for a young adult
audience and for that reason it does its job well.As usual,
Hoffman does a beautiful job of writing.
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on March 15, 2015
This story is riveting and extremely raw. i found it hard to put the book down. as a Jewish teenager, almost at the age of 16, I felt an extreme emotional connection to the protagonist. overall, this is one of the best books that i have ever read and i couldn't stop crying towards the end because of how closely associated my family is with the story and how this actually happened in the past. Beautifully written, well done Alice Hoffman.
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on November 16, 2013
Loverly and short. Simple, not utterly complicated. This is a very esay read for middle and high school. Some descriptions might be a little heavy (like the burning of people), but overall the story was sweet and I enjoyed very much.
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on September 8, 2015
My initial response was the story was very childlike without a lot of substance or originality. I have read other Alice Hoffman books and found this one to be mediocre. The basic story could be applied to our current situation of discrimination against any culture other than the one in power as well as the atrocities forced on others in the name of religion. .
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on September 18, 2013
I loved this book. I didn't know much about the Jews during the Inquisition.
In fact I was able to answer a trivia question after reading this book!
Alice Seybold goes in to great detail about what happend to the Mullatos.
She keeps Estrella's family secret while dropping clues throughout the book.
You think back after finishing when they all add up.
And I too couldn't believe when it ended, I wanted the story to go on and on.
This couldn't possibly be the end. I was so engaged I finished it in 2 days.
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on January 12, 2017
This one leaves you expecting the story to continue, but suddenly cuts short. However, I feel that the point was made and it leaves you with a more nuanced understanding of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.
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