cover image Land of Hope

Land of Hope

Joan Lowery Nixon. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08110-7

This first book of a series spotlights Rebekah Levinsky, who, with her family, escapes the pogroms of Russia and boards a crowded steamship for New York City in 1902. The journey's rigors and the agony of leaving her homeland recede somewhat when she meets three emigrants of her own age, yet the girl's joy on arriving at Ellis Island is diminished when her grandfather's limp prevents his entering the country. More problems follow: cramped living quarters, sweatshop working conditions, a street gang that harasses Rebekah's older brother. Nixon ably dramatizes the hope that can emerge in response to oppression--political and otherwise; despite Rebekah's pleas to attend school and become a teacher, her parents insist she focus on an arranged marriage and childbearing. The book has its shortcomings, however--stilted dialogue, a repetitious, sometimes dull narrative and numerous Yiddish words likely to perplex youngsters. Still, this close-up view of turn-of-the-century America and Nixon's factual afterword on Ellis Island are admirable compensations. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)