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Book Report: Out of Many Waters

Your Humble Blogger is always looking out for YA novels that have some Jewish content, but that are not Shoah-related. I don’t mean to dismiss all the YA books on the Shoah; there are some good ones. But it’s not hard to find them. My synagogue has a whole section on them. And I have read a few, and a few that aren’t bad books, but to the extent that I am looking for books for my daughter, I want to make sure that she doesn’t have a sense of Judaism that centers on the six million dead. My preference, in fact, is for her to have some sense of the centuries of our life in Europe that were wiped out by the Nazis, to mourn that appropriately when she does read the Shoah books.

That’s one reason why I picked up Out of Many Waters, which is set around the true events that brought Portuguese Jews to New Amsterdam via Brazil in 1854. The other reason is that Jacqueline Dembar Greene is a local author who was coming to speak at my synagogue. She didn’t grow up in our shul, but in the town next door, and her husband grew up in our shul, and her mother-in-law is still a member here. So it was easy to bring her. Plus, she is the writer of the American Girl Rebecca books, and American Girl is, you know, a trifle popular amongst tween girls these days. Or is American Girl totally 2008? Anyway, we had terrific turnout and it was an interesting talk. And I’m glad I was prepared.

And I’m glad I read the book. It’s an exciting book, there are pirates, it’s well-written, and it has pretty much the right amount of information for a YA historical. I passed it along to my Perfect Non-Reader, who enjoyed it a lot, too, and then enjoyed going to the author talk. Her first author talk! Well, no, there have been a bunch of them at school, now that I think about it. But our first one together.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Thank you for this - I have recommended it for purchase for our library. (I was showing your review to a coworker who said that she'd recently had a teenage girl looking for novels about Jewish history that weren't about the Shoa. So.)

You may want to also get the companion book, One Foot Ashore, which I will blog tomorrow. I hope. Also good—this is mostly following the Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam. With Rembrandt, who lived in the Jewish Quarter at the time.


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