A sweeping look at the melting pot of 1902 and New York's Ellis Island. They came from all over seeking a fresh start away from the poverty and violence at home - looking towards America as the land of opportunity only to find themselves in a land that didn't want them, didn't understand them and feared them. Imagine surviving a harrowing sea voyage in the belly of a ship and finding yourself in a foreign land where you don't understand the language, customs or why you are being turned away and shipped home. This island that held such hope was often full of corruption, deceit and racism for these immigrants who had already been through so much. A friendship begins between a German/American young woman with a gift for language and a young Italian immigrant who has already seen more than her share of loss. Alma and Francesca's friendship will strengthen their resolve to help rid Ellis of shoddy treatment and corruption and help each other stand up for themselves. A beautiful story of female friendship bonding over the similarities we share rather than the differences.
This will appeal to readers who want more stories of early immigrant experiences as well as those who are interested in this fascinating time in New York City's history. The author's notes and a reading group guide will be helpful for book clubs. 4 stars
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