Karin Levi is one of the lucky Jews to escape France alive, with her brother Marc. To be a Jew in France, during Hitler’s occupation, was basically a death sentence. Follow the complex path of Karin and Marc as they move, under cover of darkness from place to place, searching for safety. Eventually the siblings reach Italy and are able to secure passage on the Henry Gibbons, a ship sent to Naples to bring refugees to America. Along the way, Karin composes letters to her Maman, who is supposed to catch up to them when she is better.
We had stayed on the ship overnight. When we left, they gave us tags to pin on our clothes. U.S. ARMY CASUAL BAGGAGE.
“As if we’re packages,” I said, when Marc translated.
“It’s because we’re not official. I guess they don’t know what to call us.”
“How about visitors? Aren’t we guests of President Roosevelt? We’re not here to stay.”
In America, Karin is taken to Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York. At first she wonders what kind of place she has come to, and wonders why she must live in a place with high fences and barbed wire. Gradually, she develops friendships and starts school, but always Karin writes her mother and wonders when she will come.
I appreciated the facts at the back of the book. More than 84,000 French people were sent to concentration camps and over 6 millions Jews were killed in Europe. The American government only brought 982 people as refugees, all of which were housed at Lake Oswego. It’s rather sobering to see how pitifully small that number is when over one hundred thousand German prisoners of war were kept on American shores during the war.
This review is part of my efforts to honor April as National Holocaust month. Other reviews are: After the War by Carol Matas, One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping, and Greater than Angels, by Carol Matas. Previous related posts: The Whirlwind by Carol Matas.