Jadwiga's Crossingby Richard J. Lutz
No more time for Germans, she said. As though it was for her to determine this for him. So much was happening. He was forgetting his knapsack, which he was entitled to keep. And he was forgetting the other Polish sergeants-the ones he had agreed to go to town with, to the dance. Already she had him fully confused. And hadn't she mentioned America, even? What was it she said about America?
So begins the adventure of Jadwiga's Crossing, a compelling story of emigrants from Poland in the period after America's great Civil War. A young girl from a Baltic fishing community, a proud soldier in service to Prussian militarism, and the love that compels him to take the gamble of a lifetime. Theirs is no simple voyage to the New World as they deal with the challenges of a mismanaged squarerigger, discord among their fellow passengers, a scarcity of food, and mounting disasters.
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'Jadwiga's Crossing' was many years in the formation by a father and son writing team, and it proves well worth the wait. Based on records of real people, Poles who crossed the ocean from Poland to find a new life in America, the story has everything a good novel needs: imagery, themes, conflict, and characterization. The novel begins in a fishing village in Poland and ends in Dunkirk, New York, but the greater part of it takes place aboard the immigrant-laden ship carrying uncertain but bravely optimistic flesh and blood people to a new land and a new life. They lived lives as so many of our ancestors must have done. Highly Recommended. James Conroyd Martin Author of 'Push Not the River' and 'Against a Crimson Sky'