Jacob's Ladder

Alan Collins, Author Dutton Books $13.95 (149p) ISBN 978-0-525-67272-2
Jacob and his younger brother Solly are orphaned when their father falls (or leaps--it is never clear) from a cliff in Australia, where this book is set. Because their only remaining relative, Uncle Siddy, is unmarried and a small-time criminal, the boys are put in a Jewish orphanage. In his new home, surrounded by young refugees from Hitler's Germany, Jacob is taught the significance of his heritage; he, in turn, teaches his new friends Australian slang and rugby. When Solly is adopted, Jacob is apprenticed to a printer. Although his new life is not without satisfaction, Jacob misses the company of people his own age. The search for companionship and for a cause leads Jacob to explore both the Zionist and Communist movements. But he never really feels as if he belongs in either organization. Only after another tragedy does Jacob begin to lead the life that suits him best. Because this account reads more like a memoir than a novel (the author recounts events, rather than re-creating them) it may be a bit daunting for some readers. However, for those able to appreciate it, this bittersweet evocation of a bygone era offers much that is moving and memorable. Ages 12-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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