Wow! I’d have loved this when I was 8,9, or 10 (it was published when I was 7 or 8) but I’m virtually certain this is the first time I’ve read it. I f...moreWow! I’d have loved this when I was 8,9, or 10 (it was published when I was 7 or 8) but I’m virtually certain this is the first time I’ve read it. I found it thanks to GR friend Kathryn. Either my school and public library didn’t have it back then or I skipped it because of the boy character(s) and that would have been a shame because the two boys and a girl have equally good roles, and they’re all wonderful. It’s a good “boy” AND a “girl” book.
The story is charming and fun, suspenseful, heartwarming, full of adventure and family and friendship. It’s well written and it’s a riveting and well-crafted story. The characters are well developed too, and I had strong feelings about most of them. The mystery is very good, and I was actually surprised by the end, pleasantly surprised. The chapter titles are useful and a tad bit red herring like at times, but I enjoyed that. The illustrations are top notch a lovely to view, and they really enhance the story. The whole book is so evocative and there is some interesting historical information in it as well. There was room open for a sequel and I wish there had been one.
I’d have torn through this book, then and now, if I could have taken the time. It could easily be read in one day.
I admit all the lobstering talk was a bit much for me and I’d recommend it to vegan/vegetarian (and kosher keeping?) children only along with some explanations. But why it almost got only 4 stars from me is I had a hard time understanding the decisions and motivations of a few characters a few times. I think I might be the one wanting here though, so I’ll ask the only other person I know who’s read it to tell me her take.
It wasn’t until I read the author bio at the end of the book that I realized the author was a woman and not a man. it hardly matters but I found that interesting.
There is only one copy of this book in the entire LINK+ system my library uses (many public, university, and private libraries in California and Nevada) and this copy belongs to San Jose State University. Given what a gem it is it really should be more available, and I fervently hope this copy stays in circulation. I feel lucky that I was able to borrow it.(less)
Wow! This book was simultaneously devastating and fascinating for me. Overall, I found it to be a downer, a huge one.
I had hoped I’d see Laura’s life...moreWow! This book was simultaneously devastating and fascinating for me. Overall, I found it to be a downer, a huge one.
I had hoped I’d see Laura’s life as one well worth living and uplifting, and that I’d find strength and inspiration there, despite her extreme sensory deprivation (she’d lost 4 senses, all but touch) but I didn’t, not as much as I’d have liked anyway. I found the book and Laura’s life very depressing, but I also found myself laughing a lot. Thank goodness for humor.
It didn’t help that I didn’t like these people. I did love Asa (though I might not have in real life) and at least some of these people were abolitionists which helped me dislike them a lot less, that and the simple fact of life’s difficulties helped me feel empathy for them, especially Laura, but most of them. What a world they were all trapped in. I guess I had the most problems with Doctor and Laura’s father, but really while I could sort of understand everyone, it was hard for me to like them. Given that, it’s amazing how much I enjoyed the book.
I found it interesting to see miscommunications magnified even more than usual, due to Laura’s limitations and isolation, severe even in the best of times, which was sometimes funny and often tragic.
At first I was disappointed when I found that every chapter wouldn’t be in Laura’s voice, and I’d assumed I’d be most interested in the young Laura, but it turned out I was able to get engaged with everyone’s voices and with Laura throughout her lifetime.
I enjoyed the Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller short portions. I’d been interested in Laura perhaps because of my longstanding interest in Helen and Annie.
I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I kept reading this as non-fiction, but it’s a novel. I think I might have to read a biography of her, with a lot of “in her own words.” I’m really grateful that at the end of the book the author cleared up some things about what was fictionalized and what actually happened.
I came away really enjoying the book but feeling horrified and sad about Laura’s life, and others’ lives too. It wasn’t only Laura’s sensory deprivation, though that was most of it, but the heartbreaking ways in which she was treated, educated, and how clear communication was gravely impacted, and how helpless in the world she so often was, how dependent she was, by necessity. I could 100% forgive and understand Laura’s religiosity. The whole story was difficult to read, but hard to forget, and very enjoyable in its own way.
I actually won this at GR First Reads but it came about a month after publication, which would have been fine if it was the hardcover edition I was expecting, but it was a very unattractive uncorrected proof edition, which would have been fine only if it had truly been an advance copy. So, I read a borrowed library edition, and didn’t touch the received uncorrected proof. I felt a bit blackmailed into reading the book. I wanted to read it, but with all the books on my to-read shelf, I’m not sure I’d have gotten to it, and doubt would have gotten to it as quickly as I did. I’m glad I did though so I can’t be that irked about how I came to read it now.(less)
This is a very short story, even for a short story. Thanks to Mark I found out about it and thanks to Miriam I read it almost immediately. Even for th...moreThis is a very short story, even for a short story. Thanks to Mark I found out about it and thanks to Miriam I read it almost immediately. Even for this slow reader, it really did take just a few minutes to read.
I normally don’t like Selkie stories, but I really liked this one. This story is incredibly skillfully told. It’s such a short story, yet it has a very satisfying story arc, and it packs quite a wallop, but also has humor, and it’s very smart.
I didn’t think I liked Selkie stories, and I usually like novels better than I like short stories, but it turned out that this is my kind of story. I just added a novel by this author to my shelves. (less)
Apologies to those who have been waiting for my review of this book. I’m not up for writing a thorough review, but I hope my impressions are useful to...moreApologies to those who have been waiting for my review of this book. I’m not up for writing a thorough review, but I hope my impressions are useful to you, especially regarding deciding whether or not this book is for you.
I found the account gripping and suspenseful, even though the reader knows from the very start pretty much what is going to happen.
From previous reading, I knew most of what was going on during the period and yet the details told still managed to shock me at times – great examples including excerpts from the NY Times, State Dept. memos, and the memories of those involved with this rescue.
I get more and more angry at the U.S. the more I learn. I get so exasperated with human beings. Luckily, this story is mostly about the bravery, heroism, and empathy expressed by some very good people.
I was particularly grateful for the details given of what happened with everyone, and surprised that there were so many children that couldn’t be currently tracked re what happened to them. I hope they or their significant others see the plea at the end of the book, and come forward with information. I had to smile because so many of the personalities/behaviors of certain children left me not at all surprised by the adults they became. I was very touched to read about some of their post rescue lives and accomplishments.
There is an exceptionally fine and informative Afterword by Paul A. Shapiro of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
There is no gorgeous language but it is a well written straightforward account.
The photos of the children, others involved, documents, the times & places of the era were so important to me, especially the family portraits of the children and their families.
The last year I’ve had a reading dry spell, but this book was easy for me to read, and very enjoyable.
(view spoiler)[ I was very surprised that so many of the parents and siblings got out and how so many of them also got out before the worst of the Holocaust, in 1939 and 1940. The relatively few exceptions were so heartbreaking, more so because of how many were able to escape the worst of the Holocaust. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
As I was reading this, most of the way through, no matter how much I was enjoying it, and I was, particularly my 10 year old self, I was thinking how...moreAs I was reading this, most of the way through, no matter how much I was enjoying it, and I was, particularly my 10 year old self, I was thinking how I couldn’t give the book 5 stars. Unlike some middle grade books, it felt very middle grade, so I had to suspend disbelief quite a few times, and there were just too many unbelievable coincidences, but the story and characters are great, the writing is very good, the reader is likely to learn a lot about the Holocaust and art history and art, and it’s such a unique NYC story, taking place in NYC but with some highly unusual lifestyle details for that location. Also, everything came together so nicely by the end, which was very satisfying for my 9-12 year old self. So, I’m deducting only ½ star for its flaws. 4 ½ stars
Theo is a delightful character, and most of the characters are very interesting. I really enjoyed the historical parts of the story, and the non-fiction information about art, and I found it interesting how some of the events covered have been the subject of recent (for adults and teens, not kids) movies.
This would have probably been a favorite of mine if I’d read it between the ages of 9 and 12. I highly recommend this book to girls ages 9 or 10 through 12, especially those interested in art, art history, history, the Holocaust, WWII, and NYC. It’s great fun, poignant, and suspenseful. (less)