Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse

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"America," the girl repeated. "What will you do there?"
I was silent for a little time.
"I will do everything there," I answered.

Rifka knows nothing about America when she flees from Russia with her family in 1919. But she dreams that in the new country she will at last be safe from the Russian soldiers and their harsh treatment of the Jews. Throughout her journey, Rifka carries with her a cherished volume of poetry by Alexander Pushkin. In it, she records her observations and experiences in the form of letters to Tovah, the beloved cousin she has left behind.

Strong-hearted and determined, Rifka must endure a great deal: humiliating examinations by doctors and soldiers, deadly typhus, separation from all she has ever known and loved, murderous storms at sea, detainment on Ellis Island--and is if this is not enough, the loss of her glorious golden hair.

Based on a true story from the author's family, Letters from Rifka presents a real-life heroine with an uncommon courage and unsinkable spirit.


About Karen Hesse

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KAREN HESSE is the winner of the MacArthur Genius Award, and the acclaimed author of more than twenty books for children, including Brooklyn Bridge and Out of the Dust, a Newbery Medal Winner. She has received numerous honors for her writing. She lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Published January 6, 2009 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). 161 pages
Genres: Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Horror, Religion & Spirituality, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, History. Fiction

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Beginning in Russia in 1919, this epistolary novel, based on experiences of the author's great-aunt, tells how 12-year-old Rifka Nebrot and her family fled the anti-Semitism of post-revolutionary Russia and emigrated to the US.

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Publishers Weekly

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Twelve-year-old Rifka's journey from a Jewish community in the Ukraine to Ellis Island is anything but smooth sailing.

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