Friday, January 1, 2016

Review: Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse

Synopsis: Rifka knows nothing about America when she flees from Russia with her family in 1919. But she dreams she will at last be safe from the Russian soldiers and their harsh treatment of the Jews in the new country. Throughout her journey, Rifka carries with her a cherished volume of poetry by Alexander Pushkin. In it, she records her observations and experiences in the form of letters to her beloved cousin she has left behind. Strong-hearted and determined, Rifka must endure a great deal: humiliating examinations by doctors and soldiers, deadly typhus, separation from all she has ever known and loved, murderous storms at sea―and as if this is not enough, the loss of her glorious golden hair. And even if she does make it to America, she's not sure America will have her. (from the online description)

Review: Told in a series of letters from Rifka to her cousin, this is an endearing, realistic, and ultimately, hopeful book. Hesse takes the reader with Rifka from Russia to America, through hardship and hope. Rifka's voice draws in the reader, placing you with her as she walks through the trials. I highly recommend this for kids, as a way to learn about history from an engaging viewpoint. This would be excellent in conjunction with the history of Russian during the revolution after WWI, and for learning about immigration to the US during that turbulent time.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: 1992 International Reading Association Award; 1992 National Jewish Book Award;
2012 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association

ISBN: 0-440-83050-8
Date Finished: 12-30-2015
Pages: 148

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