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The Blood Lie

Overview

It’s September 22, 1928, Jack Pool’s 16th birthday. It's the Sabbath. In the synagogue that morning, he feels restless, stuck in a remote little whistle-stop town in upstate New York. But he doesn’t realize exactly how stuck he is until his little sister’s Gentile friend Daisy gets lost in the woods and he's accused of killing her.

A 2012 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers

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The Blood Lie: A Novel

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Overview

It’s September 22, 1928, Jack Pool’s 16th birthday. It's the Sabbath. In the synagogue that morning, he feels restless, stuck in a remote little whistle-stop town in upstate New York. But he doesn’t realize exactly how stuck he is until his little sister’s Gentile friend Daisy gets lost in the woods and he's accused of killing her.

A 2012 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012, 2012 Sydney Taylor Award.

"A powerful—and poignant—reminder that no person can live freely until all people can live freely."—Lauren Myracle, author of Shine

"Tackles the weighty issue of anti-Semitism with uncompromising clarity."—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by true events that affected debut novelist Vernick's relatives, this historical drama tackles the weighty issue of anti-Semitism with uncompromising clarity. It's 1928, on the eve of Yom Kippur, and 16-year-old Jack Pool is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight when a young girl vanishes. Unscrupulous smugglers in need of a distraction blame Jack and the rest of the Jewish community in their small upstate New York town, prompting illegal searches and persecution. As the hateful lies and rumors spread, the innocent Jack and his family struggle to stay safe, even as their neighbors turn against them. Marked by ugly words and uglier actions, this isn't an easy story; despite the novel being grounded in a particular time and place, the authentic depictions of a community driven to false accusations based on paranoid assumptions and prejudice has contemporary relevance. Yet Vernick maintains a thread of cautious optimism, by way of characters who acknowledge the insidious reality of anti-Semitism, while refusing to have their personal relationships tainted by it. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
Jack Pool is turning sixteen when his life takes a tail spin. A musician and a dreamer, Jack wants to leave his small town for wider horizons; but, at the same time, he is infatuated with the lovely Emaline. She may be smitten with him as well, but in 1928 in upstate New York boys and girls are well-chaperoned and Jews certainly do not have a chance with Christians. However, Jack's and Emaline's mothers have an unusual friendship, which backfires on Jack. He is the last to see Daisy, Emaline's younger sister, before she disappears and soon rumors are flying through the small town. A nasty word in the trooper's ear and soon the few Jewish families and the rabbi in town are accused of participating in blood sacrifice, draining the blood of a child to use in their sacred holiday rituals. The townsmen turn out to search the woods, but when Daisy is not found immediately, the trooper begins to question the Jewish townspeople. A mob even visits the rabbi, but Jack scares them away by flipping the switches, overwhelming them with darkness, and blowing the shofar. Based on a true incident in the author's home town of Massena, NY, this book explores the devastation and damage a lie and unfounded accusation can cause. There are no easy answers, but this book certainly poses some challenging questions to teens growing up today. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—The year is 1928. Jack Poole, 16, wants nothing more than to leave his small, insular upstate New York town to study music in Syracuse. This ambition is a welcome distraction from his yearning for Emaline, a girl he cannot date because he is Jewish and she is Christian. The depth of the town's anti-Semitism is revealed when Emaline's sister goes missing, and Jack is accused of her murder. Investigators assume that Yom Kippur involves human sacrifice and the use of children's blood for religious ceremonies. The plot twist may seem improbable, so young people will be fascinated to read in the afterword that the novel is closely based on an incident that occurred in the author's hometown of Massena, NY. The dialogue and details about the characters' social world seem historically accurate and carefully researched, and readers will have a sense of being transported to 1928 while identifying with the characters' universal desires and feelings. The action in this concise novel is extremely compressed. This makes for a fast, if at times unsatisfying, read because teens might long for a deeper, more-nuanced knowledge of the characters. Still, the historical accuracy is impressive, and Vernick gives teens a terrifying view of America's recent history that is absolutely crucial. This book would be a fine addition to a social-studies curriculum.—Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard H.S. Early College, Queens, NY
Kirkus Reviews

When little Daisy Durham disappears, an innocent Jewish boy is called a murderer.

In upstate New York in 1928, 16-year-old Jack Pool knows there's no hope for a romance with beautiful Emaline Durham, Daisy's older sister. They inhabit different worlds, and the gold crucifix she wears stands between them "like an electrified fence, all glittery and metallic." Jack is Jewish, and Daisy's disappearance sparks an ugly episode of prejudice and intolerance in the little town of Massena. Flames of prejudice are fanned by local bigot Gus Poulos, who spreads age-old tales of the blood lie and how Daisy was probably sacrificed, her blood used in mysterious Jewish rituals. But Gus has personal reasons for inflaming passions and involving the police, and things get out of hand when Jewish-owned businesses are searched, the temple is raided and someone kills all of the Pool family chickens. Based on an actual incident in Massena in 1928, the slim novel effectively mines layers of ignorance, fear, intolerance and manipulation, and it connects the incident to Henry Ford's anti-Semitic writing and to the lynching of Jewish businessman Leo Frank in 1915.

A great match with Karen Hesse's Witness (2001), also set in the 1920s, about a Vermont town that took a stand against prejudice. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781941026090
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
  • Publication date: 2/10/2015
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,070,514
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Shirley Reva Vernick’s interviews and feature articles have appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, national newspapers , and the publications of Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Boston Universities. She also runs a popular storytelling website, storybee.org, which is used in schools, libraries, hospitals and homes all over the world. Shirley graduated from Cornell University, majoring in economics and nutrition, and is an alumna of the Radcliffe Writing Seminars. She grew up in the town where the blood libel happened, as did her father, whose family was directly victimized by it. She now lives with her husband, two daughters, and two frisky dogs in Western Massachusetts, where she has recently helped make her town a certified fair-trade community.

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