cover image A Ceiling Made of Eggshells

A Ceiling Made of Eggshells

Gail Carson Levine. Quill Tree, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-287819-9

This sweeping historical novel illuminates the plight of a Jewish family in Spain during the late 15th century. Precocious narrator Loma is just seven when her facility with numbers endears her to her influential financier abuelo after his wife, her beloved abuela, dies in a plague outbreak. Her status as his favorite proves a mixed blessing and one of the narrative’s essential tensions. Loma becomes increasingly indispensable to her grandfather as he travels across Spain collecting taxes for the country’s monarchs. As she grows older, however, his requirements of her mean that she must postpone her desire to marry and have children. Infusing her title with historical details about costume, food, and customs, Newbery Honoree Levine (Ella Enchanted) deftly conveys the obstacles facing the Jewish community under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, among them the Inquisition, pressure to convert to Christianity, and eventually expulsion from Spain. Though the narrative unspools slowly, pacing builds considerably in the final chapters as 16-year-old Loma memorably navigates tumult and danger, bravely taking control of her destiny. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. [em](May) [/em]