Land of Hope (Ellis Island Series #1)

Land of Hope (Ellis Island Series #1)

3.8 5
by Joan Lowery Nixon

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Russian immigrant Rebekah Levinsky hopes desperately that her dream will come true in America. On the difficult ocean journey to the "land of opportunity" she meets two other girls—Kristin Swensen from Sweden and Rose Carney from Ireland. The three quickly become friends as they share their visions of the future and endure life on the overcrowded

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Russian immigrant Rebekah Levinsky hopes desperately that her dream will come true in America. On the difficult ocean journey to the "land of opportunity" she meets two other girls—Kristin Swensen from Sweden and Rose Carney from Ireland. The three quickly become friends as they share their visions of the future and endure life on the overcrowded ship.

Once they reach Ellis Island the girls must separate and Rebekah and her family settle in New York on the Lower East Side. Instead of finding streets paved with gold, they slave seven days a week in a sweatshop. Will Rebekah find the courage to conquer the odds and find happiness in the United States of America.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first book of a series spotlights Rebekah Levinsky, who, with her family, escapes the pogroms of Russia and boards a crowded steamship for New York City in 1902. The journey's rigors and the agony of leaving her homeland recede somewhat when she meets three emigrants of her own age, yet the girl's joy on arriving at Ellis Island is diminished when her grandfather's limp prevents his entering the country. More problems follow: cramped living quarters, sweatshop working conditions, a street gang that harasses Rebekah's older brother. Nixon ably dramatizes the hope that can emerge in response to oppression--political and otherwise; despite Rebekah's pleas to attend school and become a teacher, her parents insist she focus on an arranged marriage and childbearing. The book has its shortcomings, however--stilted dialogue, a repetitious, sometimes dull narrative and numerous Yiddish words likely to perplex youngsters. Still, this close-up view of turn-of-the-century America and Nixon's factual afterword on Ellis Island are admirable compensations. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature
Three teenage girls stand together with the Statue of Liberty towering in the background. They are very different. Rebekah Levinsky, dark-haired and earnest, is part of a Jewish family hoping to escape Russia's increasing oppression of her people. Swedish Kristen Swensen, with her blue eyes and blond braids, is traveling with her family to Minnesota. Irish Rose Carney, with her curly red hair and green eyes, will join her father in Chicago, then help him earn enough money to send for the rest of the family. The three girls, all so different, find friendship through their common destination—Ellis Island. Nixon's tale follows the main character, Rebekah, from the night she huddles with her family on Russia's borders, through the rigors of ocean travel in steerage and the suspense of Ellis Island, on to the tenements of New York. Although Rebekah experiences loss and disappointment along the way, she is eager to embrace the new world's opportunity—free education, open to girls like her. But will the family's values or their poverty allow her to realize her dreams? Letters from Kristen and Rose, plus the steadfast friendship/budding romance with tall, musical Aaron Mirsch help to bolster Rebekah's resolve. Well-researched and interesting, this book, part of the "Ellis Island" series, could be the catalyst for creative classroom projects, such as mapping Rebekah's journey, writing journal entries for a character in the book, or donning period dress in order to give oral reports about Ellis Island or New York's ethnic neighborhoods of the period. 2001 (orig. 1992), Gareth Stevens, . Ages 8 to 14. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-- Rebekah, 15, and her family leave their shtetl in Russia for the U. S., seeking safety from the random violence against Jews. On the ship she meets two girls, one Irish and one Swedish, representing two other major groups of immigrants in the early 1900s. Rebekah and her friends talk about the opportunities for women in their new country, a theme that reappears throughout the story. Interwoven is the beginning of a romance that will surely develop in later books. The novel's strength is its sense of place; readers suffer the smells and trials of the long, harrowing ocean trip and feel the confusion the family faces in New York, even then a large and chaotic city. The characters, who seem to be typecast for their role in a book about the ``immigrant experience,'' and the episodic plot slow down the pace of the story, and it's difficult for readers to care much about these people. Other novels set in the same period include the powerful Call Me Ruth (Doubleday, 1982; o.p.) by Marilyn Sachs and One Way to Ansonia (Bradbury, 1985) by Judie Angell. --Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Candace Smith
In the first book of the Ellis Island series, 15-year-old Rebekah Levinsky escapes persecution in Russia and flees with her family to join Uncle Avir in New York City. Few of the family's belongings can be brought on the treacherous voyage, and Rebekah misses her best friend and the home she leaves behind. Even so, she adapts quickly to life on board the ship and finds friends. Her arduous journey is vividly described; her friendships and fleeting shipboard romance are less convincing. When Rebekah's grandfather is denied entry into the U.S. because he is lame, the family is devastated. They are also unprepared for the cramped living quarters of their new home and the long hours they must work in the sweat shop to survive in the new land. Despite the difficulties, Rebekah is still granted her one wish--to go to school. Nixon's careful rendering of life for immigrants in the early 1900s is realistically harsh yet hopeful, and teenagers will absorb a strong sense of the times as they read Rebekah's engrossing story.

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Ellis Island Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.93(h) x 0.50(d)
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 14 Years

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Land of Hope (Ellis Island Series #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
if you like historical fiction i think you will like this book. it was really good and it was a pretty easy book to read. just read it and you wont be dissapointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is just a great book, i am reading this book for my school project and this talks about how teenage girl feels and how she wants to get educated in united states. in russia she couldnt do anything she wanted just because she was a girl. but life is not so easy in united states either. this book is full of surprises, sad and lots of information of history. everyone should read this book! this is awesome!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is just awesome it talks about how pre-teen feels about growing up and deals with money problem and finding their life in united state.everyone should read this book
Guest More than 1 year ago
The way this story describes the way of Jewish life is awesome. It is a very hopeful book for anyone who immigrates to the U.S.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Has good facts, about a jewish immigrant from Russia coming to the 'Land of Hope' where she dreams to go to school and become a teacher.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very bad, I don't ever want to read it again. In fact, I recommended it to all of my friends! I think This book was very good, I think many teachers should read it to their class. It stunk that much. If you want to read this awesome book, don't, because it stinks. And don't forget, this book rocks!