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Someday We Will Fly

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  78 reviews
From the author of Blind, a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story set during World War II in Shanghai, one of the only places Jews without visas could find refuge.

Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will welcome them.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Penguin Books (first published January 22nd 2019)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
I don't know how to explain this book other than "touching." It truly is a very different type of story and experience that Lillian goes through . The cultural and language I pact alone but then add I. Your mother, hovering Japanese soldiers, poverty and having to step up at 15 to take care of your sister who clearly has some just can't not feel for her. I loved how Lillian makes this effort to keep doing little things that remind her of home or her mom but then she also says ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author of FOREIGN BABES IN BEIJING and BIG GIRL SMALL, Rachel DeWoskin, now brings a new novel to the stage --- SOMEDAY WE WILL FLY. This novel captures an unknown moment in history during World War II and the Holocaust: Jewish refugees in Shanghai.

Before May 17th, 1940, Lillia's parents, Bercik and Alenka, were circus performers in Warsaw. Lillia had a healthy younger sister, Naomi, and lived in a comfortable home with her family. On May 17th, 1940, Lillia’s whole life is turned over.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An increasing number of books are highlighting a lesser known aspect of World War II: the Jews who escaped Europe and found their way to Shanghai. Desperate times make people act in ways they might otherwise never consider, as Lillia Kazka discovers in “Someday We Will Fly” by Rachel DeWoskin (Viking). Lillia, her father and younger sister flee Poland for Shanghai, which was occupied by the Japanese army. Lillia’s mother was supposed to leave with them, but disappeared when the police raided ...more
Kate ☀️ Olson
Powerful historical fiction. The fact that I just read an excellent adult novel that was about this exact same topic and time period may have taken my appreciation of it from love to like, however ~ if you want an outstanding adult story of Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WWII, definitely read “The Song of the Jade Lily” by Kirsty Manning.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rachel DeWoskin it is historical fiction. Some day we will fly talks about a 15 year old girl who lived in Poland with her family and then one day her parents were performing and the German soldiers came and raided there building and took her mother so they had to go to china without her even though she didn't want to leave her behind. My favorite part of the book is when she meets a Chinese boy at the school she goes to and starts helping him with his work. I recommend this book to anyone who ...more
Yet another WWII historical setting that I knew little, if anything about. European Jewish refugees fled by train and boat to Shanghai, China. Struggling to stay alive, they fought to keep their faith traditions alive and create a community there under Japanese occupation. A beautiful, wrenching story of multicultural friendship—really, family—forged through the depravity of war and yearning for a home that may no longer exist.
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly a heartbreaking account of a Jewish girl, most of her family having fled to Shanghai, the last place that will allow them entry. I was not aware of Jews fleeing to Shanghai, and while they didn't jump from the frying pan into the fire, they jumped right next to the japanese. Worth looking into actual accounts, which are neatly documented at the end of the book
Amy Soma
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It highlights a piece of history about which I knew very little and the story seems like a good idea. It was just such a slog and I did not find the writing compelling.
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ehs
Evocative, powerful, hard at times to read. Just as Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray, this book opens up a period in history that I knew nothing of. A satisfying if realistic ending.
This book is really good, I really enjoyed it, I wish it had more chinese characters in it though, it is hard to explain why I didn't like it.
Lisa Bernstein
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked that this book illustrated a part of the Holocaust that is rarely approached in historical fiction: the Jews who were able to flee to Shanghai. The main character, a teenage girl named Lillia, tells the story of fleeing Poland, a distant father, missing her mother, and coping with a baby sister with some kind of developmental delays. The description is good, and yet it felt like some characters and events were thrown in without adequate explanation or development. The ending was ...more
Katrin von Martin
To be completely honest, Holocaust-era novels aren’t usually my jam. I usually find them to be overwrought, cliché, and overdone. Yes, I’m a horrible, heartless person. Yet, I was drawn to Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin because it offered something different. In my university days, I read a couple novels about adolescents fleeing with their Jewish families, but never one that featured a Polish family seeking refuge in Shanghai. I wasn’t aware that Japanese-occupied Shanghai had been an ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing, well-researched, and well-written book about the immigration of Jews from Poland to Shanghai during World War II when China was occupied by the Japanese army. Lillia, a fifteen-year-old girl, leaves Warsaw accompanied by her father and baby sister after having waited almost too far into the Nazi occupation for escape because her parents persisted in believing that fleeing was not necessary. Sadly, Lillia's mother is left behind in a murky turn of events that resulted from a ...more
Paige Green
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I received this book from Viking Books. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4/5

Publication Date: January 22, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommended Age: 16 (trigger warnings for sex trafficking/abandonment)

Publisher: Viking Books

Pages: 320

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is 15 when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will accept Jews without visas.
Sasha Rosado
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book you can’t put down! I had no idea that 23,000 Jews had escaped to Shanghai during the Nazi Regime. Lilia’s story is one that could have happened with people much like the characters in this book. Surviving and helping her family stay alive as a 14 year old girl was beyond scary, but she did it to the best of her ability. The relationships she built with girls at school, her best friend Wei who was Chinese, and even her nightly job, all helped her continue to grow and learn how to live in ...more
Maybe it's my fault I've been reading too much WWII fiction lately. I enjoyed this book, but after The Girl in the Blue Coat and Grenade, it lacked drive. The premise was great - I had no idea Jews evacuated to Shanghai - but the focus meandered. It was a refugee story, a war story, a lost mother story, a baby with a developmental disability story, an almost-prostitution story, and then, in a bizarre plot twist, an [spoiler] abducted captive story [/spoiler].

A second tier recommendation.
Allison Liu
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I generally avoid World War II historical fiction novels for a few reasons, mostly because I've read so many for school, and because they mostly all have the same, general plotline. Jewish refugees somehow fighting against the Nazis to survive, and attempt to escape going to concentration camps. What drew me to this book was not because the main character was a Polish Jew, but because her family escapes to Shanghai, China to avoid the Nazis. As most of the book is set in Shanghai, the ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This book surprised me a lot. I consider myself as somewhat well-versed in WWII and the history of it. I don’t know everything (and I certainly can’t label all the different planes used in both the Pacific theater and in Europe, like my grandpa), but I feel like I’m not clueless. There has been some absolutely stellar historical fiction that has come out in the past several years about WWII and if you haven’t read any of it, then you are sorely missing out. However, as an educated and ...more
I love the books of Rachel DeWoskin. I'm not especially interested in stories set in China (I'm much more an Indiaphile) but all of DeWoskin's books are set in China and she brings the place to life like no other writer. I've read her autobiography of living there and her fabulously sad love story 'Repeat After Me' but the lastest of her books, 'Someday We Will Fly' is completely different.

The book tells of Lillia, the daughter of Polish Jewish circus artists, who flee their country during the
Monica Wilson
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, I learned about an aspect of history I had no prior knowledge of by reading a teen fiction book! I had no idea that some Jewish families escaped the war in Europe by travelling to China, and some families had even moved there during the 1930s and had established a life there by the time war began. Lilla's travels to Shanghai with her father and sister, and they form relationships with other adults and children in the Jewish and Chinese communities. Lillia sometimes attends the ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emotional, raw, beautiful. I felt like I was reading a piece of art rather than a YA novel. There were so many quotes in this book that evoked so much meaning - the author did an excellent job transforming this character, truly displaying her thoughts, desires, concerns, passions. Throughout the book, I became fearful when she was afraid, relieved when she found hope. I felt like I could truly sense her emotions and connect with her in a way that made me want to keep reading. The ending was ...more
Stacey Bradley
This book will definitely on my recommended historical fiction list for my next book talks. The story starts in Poland at the start of WW2, where we meet the Kazka family. They are circus performers in the Stanislav Circus but during a last performance Lillia's mother Alenka disappears. Lillia, her sister Naomi and her father escape Poland prior to being put into concentration camps and board a ship to Shanghai. Unfortunately they must board the ship without her mother and the journey begins in ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a touching and feeling book! It captured my attention and held it fast. I have never read or heard of how Shanghai was a retreat for refugees during the World War II.
I really liked the author's note as well where she referenced how she had gotten her research as well as her inspiration and I really enjoyed that. This book was heartbreaking but also full of hope and resilience, the quiet kind that leaves you on the edge for the characters.
Lillia's character was intricate and quite perfect
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must confess, I only got this audiobook to hear Jane Entwhistle narrate it. And after listening to all 10 Flavia de Luce books, it was a little hard at the beginning to separate Lillia from Flavia.

However, fascinating!

Kudos for well done historical fiction. You could picture the scenes and feel the tension of their harrowing journey.

That is, right up to the part where Rebecca became Lillia’s friend. Have you not seen mean girls? I doubt very much Rebecca would have had any thing to do with
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jamie Gregory
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story highlighting Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII. Something I knew nothing about. Lillia, her sister Naomi, and father flee Warsaw but are separated from her mother Alenka. However, they have to use their tickets to escape to Shanghai while they have the chance and just hope that Alenka will find them. DeWoskin captures what it means for Lillia to help her family survive, changing her in ways that she could never have imagined before the war. She tries to hang on to ...more
Rosie The Librarian
Sometimes lovely and hopeful, sometimes haunting and brutal. Fans of WWII historical fiction should love it for it's unique setting and exhaustive research. Really powerful messages that are still relevant today.

(view spoiler)
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SOMEDAY WE WILL FLY by Rachel DeWoskin

Performers in the Warsaw Circus must flee for their lives from the Nazis. As they flee to Shanghai, Lillia’s mother is lost. She and father left with no Choice, continue to Shanghai where Jews are being offered safety, but not an easy life. As the Japanese draw ever nearer, life becomes more tenuous and scary.
Well written and researched, this YA novel is also a wonderful read for adults. The Jewish experience in war time China has been little known. This
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book I knew nothing about the movement of Jewish people into China during WWII. This book has made me want to learn more about that piece of history, and in that regard I loved it.
However, I felt the plot moved very slowly at times and, to me, the ending got a little convoluted without any true reason or significant value to the storyline. I also had a hard time believing Lillia as a teenager and had to keep reminding myself that she wasn't 8-10.
Overall I enjoyed the book
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About the Jews and others who took refuge in Shanghai before WWII. This is a lesser-known part of the story of the Holocaust but I have the honor of knowing one of the survivors, an amazing and so brave person, so books that deal with that time and place are high on my list of "things to read." Adding a extra layer of interest, the lead family in the story are part of a circus from Poland who had led a successful and unusual life prior to the war. Lillia, the protagonist, uses some of her ...more
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Rachel DeWoskin is the author of Foreign Babes in Beijing, a memoir about her inadvertent notoriety as the star of a Chinese soap opera, and a novel, Repeat After Me. She lives in New York City and Beijing and is at work on her fourth book, Statutory.