cover image The Return

The Return

Sonia Levitin. Atheneum Books, $16 (213pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31309-7

Levitin's book is a glorious, heartrending account of Operation Moses, the airlift of Ethiopian Jews from the Sudan into Israel, as seen through the eyes of Desta, 12. Desta's family belongs to a small community of Jews in dire poverty, isolated in the mountains and terrorized by Ethiopia's communist regime. A dream foretells the arrival of other Jews promising freedom in Israel; subsequently Desta's older brother, along with her betrothed, Dan, and his family, are chosen to travel to the Sudan, where they will be flown to Israel. The journey becomes a nightmare for them all. This book will remind readers that there are thousands of children in the world who spend each day in jeopardy. The story ends with Desta and Almaz healing in Jerusalem, but there is a last note that the airlift was stopped, and that many Jews remain trapped in Ethiopia. Ages 10-up. (April)