The Girl in the Torch
The Girl in the Torch
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Annotation: After her father is killed in a pogrom, twelve-year-old Sarah and her mother immigrate to America, but when her mother dies before they get through Ellis Island, and the authorities want to send her back to the old country, Sarah hides in the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
Catalog Number: #107905
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 284 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-06-222795-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-222795-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2014030623
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
This tale of assimilation and survival brings Emma Lazarus' iconic "New Colossus," famous for gracing the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, to life. Sarah, a 12-year-old Russian girl, finds herself orphaned after her father is killed in a pogrom and her mother succumbs to sickness just days after their ocean crossing to the U.S. Facing deportation to an unwelcoming homeland, she makes the impulsive decision to escape the immigration agents by leaping into New York Harbor and swimming to Bedloe's Island. By day, she mingles among tourists and eats discarded remnants of picnic lunches. At night, she sleeps in the crown room of the Statue of Liberty until she's caught by a kindly, if troubled, night watchman, and she's forced to make her way in the strange city. With the help of an elderly Chinese woman and an enterprising newsie, Sarah gradually begins to feel at home. This dynamic commentary on multiculturalism and the immigrant experience in America will likely be useful for middle-grade readers learning about early twentieth-century U.S. history.
School Library Journal
Gr 47 When her father is brutally murdered, Sarah and her mother escape the Russian pogroms and sail to America with a prized postcard of the Statue of Liberty inspiring their dreams of a new life. This treasure offers little comfort however, after Sarah's mother is stricken with illness and dies upon their arrival at Ellis Island. With no relatives in the United States, the authorities decide to send Sarah back to her home country. Instead, she jumps overboard from the ship making the return trip and swims to Liberty Island, taking refuge in Lady Liberty. After a week's worth of evading capture and scavenging for survival, Sarah comes to the aid of the drunken night watchman when an accident leaves him incapacitated. Her discovery not only puts his position in jeopardy but gives Sarah a chance to make a life for herself far different from that which her parents had imagined. Many elements of this middling novel seem too far-fetched to be plausible. In addition, the majority of individuals are stock characters, some of whom seem racially stereotyped, only adding to the novel's contrivance. Ethnic diversity in the Lower East Side during the turn of the 20th century is portrayed as naively harmonious, with what little conflict that exists too neatly resolved at times. Still, readers interested in historical fiction will find a readable narrative with mostly likable personalities. Avi's City of Orphans (S. & S., 2011) surpases this book in its representation of daily life in the tenements and the gritty realities for many living on the Lower East Side. VERDICT For collections with a regional interest to its locale, this would be a servicable addition; passable for smaller collections and budgets. Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library
Voice of Youth Advocates
Fans of Sharenow's My Mother the Cheerleader (HarperCollins, 2009) and The Berlin Boxing Club (HarperCollins, 2011/VOYA August 2011) will not be disappointed by his newest addition to the historical fiction genre. Twelve-year-old Sarah is a Russian Jew whose father is brutally murdered in a raid on their village. She and her mother emigrate to the Promised Land shown in a picture postcard of the Statue of Liberty, including the iconic lines from Emma Lazarus's poem. Their plans wither when Sarah's mother dies within days after their arrival. Desperate to stay in America, Sarah jumps from the ship taking her back to Russia as it passes Liberty Island. She swims ashore and hides out in the statue until Maryk, the "half-breed" guard, finds her. The son of a Swedish father and a Lakota woman who toured in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, he is the first of many flavors in the melting pot seasoning Sarah's new life. Next are Mrs. Lee, the Chinese woman who runs the boarding house where Maryk lives; Miss Jean and Smitty, an African American couple; and Tommy Grogan, the Irish newsie whose home is a packing crate in an alley. From them, she learns the difficult lesson that the Golden Door only opens for some.Thanks to Sharenow's well-crafted dialogue, the characters are representative without becoming stereotypes. The plot is well paced, and the bittersweet conclusion is faithful to the complexities of this chapter of history. Teachers on the hunt for solid historical fiction will appreciate Sarah's story.Donna L. Phillips.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (4/1/15)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (4/1/15)
Voice of Youth Advocates
Word Count: 52,957
Reading Level: 5.2
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.2 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 176264 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q66694
Lexile: 800L

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?

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