The Blood Lie

( 1 )

Overview

September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool's sixteenth birthday. He's been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn't Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn't Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple's good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline. And if she isn't on his mind, then he's thinking about his music and imagining himself ...

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The Blood Lie: A Novel

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Overview

September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool's sixteenth birthday. He's been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn't Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn't Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple's good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline. And if she isn't on his mind, then he's thinking about his music and imagining himself playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic. Yup, music is definitely his ticket out of this remote whistle-stop town—he doesn't want to be stuck here one more minute. But he doesn't realize exactly how stuck he is until Emaline's little sister Daisy goes missing and he and his family are accused of killing her for a blood sacrifice.

Blood Liewas inspired by a real blood libel that took place when a small girl disappeared from Massena, New York, in 1928, and an innocent Jewish boy was called a murderer.

Shirley Reva Vernick's interviews and feature articles have appeared inCosmopolitan,Good Housekeeping,Ladies' Home Journal, and national newspapers. She also runs a popular storytelling website, www.storybee.org, which is used in schools and libraries all over the world. Shirley grew up in the town where the blood libel happened, as did her father, whose family was directly victimized by it.

A 2012 Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
From the Publisher

"Vernick’s novel is a scathing indictment of anti-Semitism…it is an important book that reminds us of the imperative need to remember lest we find ourselves repeating the horrors of the past." —Booklist

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

"The evolution of how an anti-Semitic lie spread throughout this community is convincingly portrayed in this story…[and] the troubling issues that the book raises are sure to give readers a sense of the fragility of Jewish-Christian relations and the challenges posed by ignorance. Highly recommended for all libraries." —Association of Jewish Libraries

"Effectively mines layers of ignorance, fear, intolerance and manipulation." —Kirkus Reviews

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

"The Blood Lie is a riveting and hard to put down novel of small town life and the viciousness that lies in some people." —Midwest Book Review

"A short story that makes an impact."—Shooting Stars Mag

"Vernick has rescued a troubling historical incident and vested it with contemporary relevance." —Hadassah Magazine

"The Blood Lie is the first novel of its kind to be published in the United States."—The Canadian Jewish News

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: 9781933693842
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 833,447
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 740L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 15, 2011

    A good first novel

    An interesting look into a past often hidden by local histories. A small town still today, Massena N.Y. is the true setting for a tale that could have happened in almost any town 1928. A crime thought to have been committed, guarded tolerance, religious ignorance and forbidden love. If not for my own knowledge of the events I would think S.R.Vernick has a healthy imagination.
    A good book for teens or a quick afternoon read. I rather enjoyed it.

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