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The Other Half of Life Mass Market Paperback – May 11, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Thomas Werkmann has witnessed firsthand just how cruel the Nazis can be, and his mother has scraped together the money to send him to Cuba on the tourist boat, the MS Francis, along with over 900 other Jews hoping to escape persecution. Upon their leaving in Hamburg, Thomas is unwillingly befriended by the two daughters of a German literature professor.
Although jealous of the Affeldts and the fact that their family has managed to escape the country together, unlike his own, Thomas finds himself drawn to the 14-year-old Priska, regardless of her seemingly foolish optimism and overly friendly nature.
During their two-week voyage across the Atlantic, Thomas - and eventually Priska - grow suspicious about several things that seem to be happening on their ship.
Why is the crew treating the Jews with respect when Jews aren't considered citizens anymore? Why is the ship steward, Manfred, so friendly with them - Priska in particular - when he's a member of the Nazi party? Why was the Nazi general, Herr Holz, assigned to this ship when he carries a cane to get around, and why does his injury seem so fake to Thomas?
Before the ship enters Cuban waters, rumors begin to circulate, and Thomas and Priska do a little investigating of their own. Is it possible that there might be even bigger problems that may delay their entry into Cuba...and freedom? Although Thomas excels in chess, this may be one game where, as a pawn, he may never be able to win.
This story, based on the true account of the MS St. Louis, surprised me, as I had not heard about this incident prior to reading THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE. Poignant and heartfelt, the cast of characters on this ship will stick with the reader long after they've closed the cover.
Reviewed by: Allison Fraclose
KIM ABLON WHITNEY
Hardcover--Available May 12, 2009
Rating: 4.5 Enchantments
THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE is based on the true story of a World War II voyage. Its May 1939 and the SS St. Francis is setting sail for Cuba and eventually the U.S. filled with Jewish refugees desperate for a new life in a new land. However, none of them could be prepared for the events that are about to take place that will change everyone's lives forever.
Fifteen year old Thomas is traveling alone. His Jewish father has been imprisoned and his Christian mother has scraped together enough money for his passage. Alone and frightened, he finds himself befriended by a family on an upper deck and slowly a relationship begins to form between Thomas and fourteen year old Priska. Its obvious as you read the story that the author did a great job of researching the events on the SS St.
Francis as its very detailed oriented and the reader can fully picture what life must have been like for those on board. Thomas is a very sympathetic character, as is the family he becomes close to onboard. One of my favorite scenes takes place fairly early in the book when Thomas is invited to dine up in first class with Professor Affeldt and his family. All ready ill at ease, Thomas poses as a `cousin' in order to join the family and is forced to deal with overhearing the waiter's remarks about the passengers, witness the attention paid to the pretty Priska by the same waiter and share his story with the family that will soon become his friends. A very engrossing read, readers looking for a great historical read based on a real life event should definitely pick up THE OTHER HALF OF LIFE.Read more ›
When the ship drops anchor outside the Havana harbor, Thomas and the other passengers realize there is a problem.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An easy read. Would be great for middle school students. An enjoyable read.Published 18 months ago by Sandra P. McGuire
It sounds like an interesting book and and is very cool and unique but you will never fall asleep when you read the other half of life.Published on February 25, 2013 by Hanna perry
I was raised on books with explicit content about the Holocaust. They left me a little scarred. I don't want today's children to suffer the same experience, but they should be... Read morePublished on June 4, 2012 by Judith Mintz
This book was just incredible. I was so impressed with the amount of research that went into writing The Other Half of Life, and how it is a great way for teens to learn more... Read morePublished on May 18, 2010 by Jennifer H
The Other Half of Life is a wonderful book based upon the MS St. Louis; also know as the voyage of the damned. Read morePublished on February 13, 2010 by Ken Kugler
Though written in the third person, this fascinating historical novel has the power of a memoir and can partner well in the classroom with "the Diary of Anne Frank". Read morePublished on October 19, 2009 by Pat