The year is 1852. It is a dangerous time to be a Jewish boy in Russia, as the government has a policy of conscripting male children for twenty-five years–with the goal of making them forget their Jewishness. Twelve-year-old Mendel knows that to be taken into the Czar’s army is unthinkable, but he is also aware that it is risky for his parents to hide him from those impressing boys into the military. Mendel believes he has only one option–to escape and leave the Ukraine forever. He is assisted by a freedom fighter who is also helping another escapee–none other than Dovid, a local bully. As the three make the perilous trek to the Hungarian border, Mendel discovers the truth of his father’s words, “only the closed circle can keep us whole.” Maxine Rose Schur has certainly done her homework: the historical details are precise, and the setting comes to life. Readers will not be able to put down this fast-paced thriller until the last page has been turned. Perfect for historical fiction buffs and anyone else who loves an adventure story with a message.
Recommended by Basya Karp, Librarian, New York, USA