What a perfect time with Independence Day on Saturday to present this new novel by Robert Sharenow. If you’re a YA reader his name may sound familiar from his two historical novels, MY MOTHER THE CHEERLEADER and THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB. Robert also has an interesting ‘day’ job as the Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Lifetime and A&E network. And here I thought I was busy!
This new title is all MG and it fits like a warm blanket. The journey 12-year-old Sarah as a Russian immigrant takes will have you glued to the surprising end. It’s a marvelous reminder of what The Statue of Liberty means to so many people. Turn of the century New York City comes to life in world building perfection that will surround you in a marvelous heartwarming ride.
I sometimes hear from the MG age group that historical novels are boring. This one couldn’t be further from that notion and will have readers of all ages wrapped up in this superb piece of storytelling.
PUBLICATION DATE:2015 Pages: 304
FULL PLOT (From Amazon):
The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets True Grit in this heartfelt novel of resilience, hope, and discovering a family where you least expect it, from award-winning author Robert Sharenow.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, thousands of immigrants are arriving in the promised land of New York City. Twelve-year-old Sarah has always dreamed of America, a land of freedom and possibility. In her small village she stares at a postcard of the Statue of Liberty and imagines the Lady beckoning to her. When Sarah and her mother finally journey across the Atlantic, though, tragedy strikes—and Sarah finds herself being sent back before she even sets foot in the country.
Yet just as Sarah is ushered onto the boat that will send her away from the land of her dreams, she makes a life-or-death decision. She daringly jumps off the back of the boat and swims as hard as she can toward the Lady’s island and a new life.
Her leap of faith leads her to an unbelievable hiding place: the Statue of Liberty itself. Now Sarah must find a way to Manhattan while avoiding the night watchman and scavenging enough food to survive. When a surprising ally helps bring her to the city, Sarah finds herself facing new dangers and a life on her own. Will she ever find a true home in America?
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT THE GIRL IN THE TORCH by Robert Sharenow
- Sarah is a strong, forward thinking young girl. Her presence as a positive female role model is not only welcome but is a main character we can all learn from.
- Diversity surrounds the reader especially when Sarah reaches Chinatown. Each of the characters she befriends is a different race and color, but Sarah finds no difference. She only sees them as friends and family.
- Her touching friendship with Tommy, an orphan who sells papers on the street. This young newsie is a stark reality to the dancing boys in Disney’s musical.
- Short chapters! Teachers are encouraged to read out loud to their students. The problem is finding a book that has chapters short enough to fill the 5-7 minutes of time usually left over for this endeavor. THE GIRL IN THE TORCH has titles for every chapter and each stands on its own, leaving you wanting more.
- It’s a humble reminder that on the inside we are all the same, but what we do with our choices on the outside makes us who we really are. Thankfully, the characters here show us what being human is all about.
FAVORITE LINES: Now just a few hundred yards away, the Lady’s face beamed down at them, silent and strong. Sarah’s mother smiled and whispered, “Thank the Lord.”
AUTHOR QUOTE: Ever since I dreamed of becoming a novelist, I’ve wanted to write an immigration story. Both sets of my great-grand parents immigrated to the United States from Czarist Russia, where they lived in segregated Jewish shtetls and were persecuted for their beliefs. For me, their journey to become Americans forms the most powerful and dramatic core of my family history…
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.