Freedom Beyond the Sea

Freedom Beyond the Sea

3.0 2
by Waldtraut Lewin, Elizabeth Crawford
     
 

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Fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, a Jewish girl disguises herself and signs on as a ship’s boy, little knowing that she is headed for unknown waters with Christopher Columbus.

In Spain at the end of the 15th century, Jews are persecuted, robbed, expelled from their homes, and murdered. Esther, the daughter of the rabbi of Cordoba, flees from home dressed as a

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Overview

Fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, a Jewish girl disguises herself and signs on as a ship’s boy, little knowing that she is headed for unknown waters with Christopher Columbus.

In Spain at the end of the 15th century, Jews are persecuted, robbed, expelled from their homes, and murdered. Esther, the daughter of the rabbi of Cordoba, flees from home dressed as a boy. She is the only one in her family who escapes the bloodhounds of the Inquisition.

Esther is lucky: Through craft and bribery, she manages to sign on as a ship’s boy to get out of the country. At last she thinks she is safe. But she soon finds out that her ship is on a dangerous journey, sailing west across the ocean into unknown waters, searching for a new route to India. Her captain’s name? Christopher Columbus — a man who proves to have a keen eye for deception. It seems only a question of time before he discovers Esther’s secret.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
A contemporary German children's author thematizes the historical debate about whether Christopher Columbus was Jewish. Certainly, the Spain of 1492 would have been a deadly place to Esther Marchadi, so she disguises herself as a poor boy and gets aboard the Santa Maria as its lowest form of human life, a grummet�a boy gopher. Because she is educated�and, Lewin characterizes, because Columbus himself is sensitive to the need for Conversos and Marranos who need to take to sea�Esther, as Pedro, becomes the admiral's secretary. She is conflicted about hiding her religious identity from him and, as the days go on, wonders if he has guessed her true gender as well. Unlike L. A. Meyer's Bloody Jack (Harcourt, 2002), Esther/Pedro's story is without comic relief. But it does ring credible and offers young readers an accessible take on an historical controversy, as well as an accurate snapshot of life at sea in the 15th century. The writing is smooth and, for a thrifty price, this is a competent way to introduce middle school readers to the topics of ethnic identity, gender issues, historical fiction's use of facts, and YA fiction in translation. KLIATT Codes: J�Recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Random House, Laurel-Leaf, 262p.,
— Francisca Goldsmith
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-Though uneven in intensity and characterization, this absorbing story unfolds with intrigue, suspense, and adventure. Esther Marchadi, 16, is trying to escape persecution in Spain. She manages to sign on with Columbus as a ship's boy, renamed Pedro, and the challenge of keeping her gender and the fact that she is Jewish a secret underlies the tension of the story. Her strength and determination develop slowly, and it is well into the story that readers discover the haunting atrocities she has witnessed. Many of the theories about Columbus are significantly woven in, especially that he had Jewish ancestry. However, there are elements in the story that are not quite believable. Esther adjusts to the routine and learns her tasks on the Santa Maria extremely well and quickly. Her crush on Columbus seems as out of place in the story as his squelching his own physical attraction to her after she confesses her true identity. Also the extensive historical information is presented in a heavy-handed way that, at times, interrupts the narrative's flow. However, in spite of these shortcomings the story is a good one. Because Esther knows her life is in danger on the ship, she gets off in Gran Canaria. She has achieved a degree of freedom and readers are left to wonder what will become of her.-Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A fugitive teenager has more than her sex to hide in this angst-ridden import, set aboard the Santa Maria as it begins its epic journey across the Atlantic. Disguised as a ship's boy, Esther struggles to conceal her ignorance of ships and sailing from the coarse, narrow-minded, intrigue-ridden crew she has joined. Why is she taking such a chance? Because in 1492 the Jews are being systematically harried out of Spain, and the sea offers her only chance of escaping the brutal fate that befell her rabbi father. As if keeping her identity secret weren't stressful enough, Lewin also throws her into the company of the vain, brilliant, sharp-eyed almirante of the little fleet, Don Cristobal himself-and her feelings swiftly pass from admiration to something hotter. Several steamy scenes ensue, during one of which Esther is astounded to discover that Columbus is circumcised. As it turns out, he isn't the only one aboard either. Though short on action-Esther makes her escape when the Santa Maria stops over in the Canary Islands, so she sees only the first part of the voyage-the tale is strong in emotional intensity, as the atrocities Esther witnesses, as well as the almost unrelenting cruelty and suspicion of the Christians surrounding her, convey a strong sense of what those ugly times must have been like. Lewin cites several sources in an afterword, both for the idea that Columbus had Jewish ancestors, and for the suggestion that he had ulterior motives for undertaking his world-changing expedition. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780613722766
Publisher:
San Val
Publication date:
03/28/2003
Product dimensions:
4.12(w) x 7.14(h) x 0.99(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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