Someday We Will Fly
Someday We Will Fly

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Annotation: Lillia, fifteen, flees Warsaw with her father and baby sister in 1940 to try to make a new start in Shanghai, China, but the conflict grows more intense as America and Japan become involved.
Catalog Number: #209828
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 352 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-750891-6 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7588-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-750891-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7588-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018018516
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Lillia's Jewish family plans to escape the Nazi threat in Warsaw for Shanghai, but when their circus is raided they're separated from Lillia's mother. Lillia starts out naive at fifteen, and DeWoskin sensitively shows her maturing and accepting the role of sole breadwinner, taking a job dancing at a club. Rich prose details 1940s Japanese-occupied Shanghai through the eyes of a first-person narrator making sense of an unfamiliar setting. Bib.
Kirkus Reviews
During World War II, Lillia and her Polish family struggle to make a new home in Shanghai.DeWoskin (Blind, 2014, etc.) explores a rarely depicted topic: the struggles of the Shanghai Jewish refugees. Lillia's parents, Stanislav Circus acrobats, are performing their last show when the event is raided. Her mother is lost in the confusion, and Lillia, her father, and her developmentally disabled baby sister flee Warsaw, traveling by land and sea to China. Part of Lillia rejects what is going on around her, in innocent disbelief at what people are capable of doing to one another, while another part revels in small freedoms, wandering the streets of Shanghai unmonitored, amazed at discovering a Jewish community in this foreign land. There, in a place where she begins to hate the hope she harbors that her mother will find them, Lillia both discovers new strength and plunges into new depths of desperation, driven to do things that would surprise and appall her old self. Though the instances of Chinese romanized text are missing all tonal marks that denote pronunciation and meaning, English translations are given. The vivid characters are flawed and evolve, sometimes according to or despite their circumstances. Particularly fascinating is the juxtaposition of the plight of Jewish refugees with that of the Chinese living in a Japanese-occupied Shanghai.A beautifully nuanced exploration of culture and people. (author's note, sources, map) (Historical fiction. 13-18)
Publishers Weekly
With pathos and a fine eye for historical detail, DeWoskin (Blind) relates the story of Shanghai-s Jewish refugees during WWII, when Shanghai was under Japanese occupation. In May 1940, two days before their scheduled escape from Warsaw, 15-year-old Lillia-s mother
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
During World War II, Lillia and her Polish family struggle to make a new home in Shanghai.DeWoskin (Blind, 2014, etc.) explores a rarely depicted topic: the struggles of the Shanghai Jewish refugees. Lillia's parents, Stanislav Circus acrobats, are performing their last show when the event is raided. Her mother is lost in the confusion, and Lillia, her father, and her developmentally disabled baby sister flee Warsaw, traveling by land and sea to China. Part of Lillia rejects what is going on around her, in innocent disbelief at what people are capable of doing to one another, while another part revels in small freedoms, wandering the streets of Shanghai unmonitored, amazed at discovering a Jewish community in this foreign land. There, in a place where she begins to hate the hope she harbors that her mother will find them, Lillia both discovers new strength and plunges into new depths of desperation, driven to do things that would surprise and appall her old self. Though the instances of Chinese romanized text are missing all tonal marks that denote pronunciation and meaning, English translations are given. The vivid characters are flawed and evolve, sometimes according to or despite their circumstances. Particularly fascinating is the juxtaposition of the plight of Jewish refugees with that of the Chinese living in a Japanese-occupied Shanghai.A beautifully nuanced exploration of culture and people. (author's note, sources, map) (Historical fiction. 13-18)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* During WWII, teenage Lillia and her circus acrobat family flee Poland for Shanghai, joining a large Jewish refugee community from both Europe and America. DeWoskin, who has lived in China, has done meticulous research, but what stands out is her lyrical, sensitive portrayal of families struggling to survive during wartime, and the heartbreaking uncertainty that comes from families being separated. Although Lillia's father gets Lillia and her developmentally disabled baby sister, Naomi, out of Poland before they end up in concentration camps, father and daughters are separated from mother Alenka. Once safely in Shanghai, they find that nothing is easy: food, jobs, housing, medical treatment, and childcare are scarce or nonexistent, and Jewish refugees find themselves crowded into the ghetto of Hongkou. Eventually Lillia takes a job (without her father's knowledge or permission) as a hostess-dancer at a gentleman's club, bringing in money for food and medicine e also develops a romantic relationship with a Chinese boy. All the while, the family aches for Alenka, not knowing if they will ever see her again. Lillia uses her art (dance and puppetry) to keep herself and her family going in the face of constant challenges. Offering an unusual portrait of what war does to families in general and children in particular, DeWoskin is never didactic as she affirms the human need for art and beauty in hard times.
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages [353-356]).
Word Count: 87,854
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 14.0 / quiz: 505306 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: 800L
Guided Reading Level: V
Heime, Home
1940

I first saw Shanghai from over my father's shoulder. I was feverish the final two weeks on the ship, as if my hair had been protecting my head and once I was without it, sickness leaked in. I missed the last three ports: Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong. Of course I wouldn't have been allowed off the ship anyway, but I was sorry not to have seen them. When I woke, soaked with broken fever, we were descending the ship's gangplank, Papa carrying Naomi, me, and all of our things. So I guess it was for the best that we had so little with us.

As far as I could see there were human beings, throbbing with heat, an electric mob of running, waving, shouting. There were animals and also men pulling carts, racing, climbing onto and off of boats so rickety they looked as if they'd been made by hand from paper, people entering and exiting buildings; everywhere store fronts and signs covered with slashes and dots that made a language I couldn't understand. I reached across Papa's neck and held Naomi's hand. "What day is it?"

I heard him say, "July." We had been traveling for over a month, and now it was July and we were here, in Shanghai. Out from the endless rush of people carrying meat, lumber, bricks, passengers, giant pieces of glass emerged a man on a bicycle. He was the first person I could see individually somehow. There were so many of us. He had brown skin and bright eyes, and was watching the street ahead of him. How was he balancing his bicycle? The back was stacked with so many packages it looked like a house made of boxes. A pole crossed his neck and shoulders; from each end hung pails that seemed to pull the metal down, bending it on either side and digging a groove in his flesh. He moved so slowly through the hot street. He was the first Chinese person I'd seen, and he looked the same as anyone else, but also different. I felt a wild confusion that resembled excitement. What did I look like to those who weren't me?

Another man pulled a two-wheeled cart by, fast. He was thin as a single bone. In his cart perched a woman whose white hair flew behind her. She held a fur blanket with an animal's head still attached. It had teeth. I was surprised to see a blanket in such heat. Only when the man veered around them did I notice the group of men in payos, side-curls. Jewish men, walking toward the dock, moving and speaking as if none of the chaos around them were happening, as if it weren't a thousand degrees and impossible to breathe. As if we hadn't landed on another planet. I watched them, amazed by their calm, by the possibility that they--and we--could belong here.
An open-backed truck arrived and we climbed on, Papa lifting Naomi and me, saying it was from a Jewish service, had come to collect us. We were packed tight enough to be held up by each other's bodies. I smelled my own fear, all our sweat, a hundred broken fevers. I wished desperately for a shower. We'd washed in a small cubicle on the ship. I was hoping so much for an actual bath here. We were all, even chatty Alexi, too shocked to speak. Except Naomi, who shouted, "Ah, ah, ah," from Papa's arms.

Her eyes had begun to look green--they'd been gold before, the color of coins or a lion's mane. I was glad for this change and relieved she had no words. Even if we'd known what to say about this place, what language would we have used?

The dock was behind us, baking in the sun, crowded with men, some bearded with turbans, others in white shirts and khaki shorts, still more in military uniforms. I hoped to see the religious men again, but they were gone. I knew, in a strange and certain way, just how alike we suddenly were, those men and I. Even though all that connected us was being here, being Jewish. In that instant of looking out at the city, I saw everyone else and also saw myself among them, another stranger.

Excerpted from Someday We Will Fly by Rachel Dewoskin
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

From the author of Blind, a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story set during World War II in Shanghai, one of the only places Jews without visas could find refuge.

Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will welcome them. There they
struggle to make a life; they have no money, there is little work, no decent place to live, a culture that doesn't understand them. And always the worry about Alenka. How will she find them? Is she still alive?
  Meanwhile Lillia is growing up, trying to care for Naomi, whose development is frighteningly slow from malnourishment. She attends school sporadically, makes friends with Wei, a Chinese boy, and finds work as a performer at a "gentlemen's club" without her father's knowledge. As the conflict grows more intense, the Americans declare war and the Japanese force the Americans in Shanghai into camps. More bombing, more death. Can Lillia and her family survive, caught in the crossfire?


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