From the Publisher
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Association of Jewish Libraries , Notable Books for Older Readers
Bank Street College, Best Children's Books of the Year
Booklist, Top Ten Religious Books for Youth
California Readers, California Collections - High School
Junior Library Guild, Selection
New York Public Library, Books for the Teen Age List
Sugarman Family, Award for Jewish Children's Literature
"Simon lives his final days with hope and trust in the faithfulness of God, and readers may well be inspired by his example to live their own lives with purpose in the face of all obstacles."
"Miklowitz personalizes history in this account of the fall of Masada as seen through the eyes of a young Jewish man helping to hold the fort, and of the Roman commander who is trying to foil the Jews' last stand. . . The historical facts, a blend of the everyday and the dramatic, show how people can find hope, beauty, and even love in the midst of the most dire of circumstances — and how history is made up of real people, not so different from those reading about it. A powerful offering."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Readers get deeply involved in the paradoxical suspense of doomed characters who nourish their lives — including romance, marriage, friendship, and ambition — in the face of death. . . History is sometimes simply sad, and Miklowitz has asserted that sadness without sensationalizing it or apologizing for it."
Simon lives his final days with hope and trust in the faithfulness of God, and readers may well be inspired by his example to live their own lives with purpose in the face of all obstacles.
Bulletin of the Center for The Children's Books
Readers get deeply involved in the paradoxical suspense of doomed characters who nourish their livesincluding romance, marriage, friendship, and ambitionin the face of death. . . .History is sometimes simply sad, and Miklowitz has asserted that sadness without sensationalizing it or apologizing for it.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 73 C.E., Simon ben Eleazar, 17-year-old son of the leader of a group of Jewish refugees inside the fortress Masada, sits with his friends, John and Deborah, contemplating his future. Will he marry Deborah and follow his dream of becoming a doctor? After three years of living in the seclusion of Masada, Simon almost believes his dreams might come true. But he and his friends have not forgotten the horror of the Roman backlash in Jerusalem and the deaths of their family and friends. Soon, the Romans descend upon them with an army garrison numbering over 20,000 soldiers, Jewish slaves and mercenaries to take Masada from the 1000 Jews occupying it. Although the Jews devise ingenious defense plans to hold off the invaders, after seven months the Romans break into the fortress and discover that Simon and the others have all committed suicide. In Miklowitz's (Camouflage) novel, readers will glimpse Simon's struggles and joys and the fall of Masada as he records the daily events of the last year of his life. Simon lives his final days with hope and trust in the faithfulness of God, and readers may well be inspired by his example to live their own lives with purpose in the face of all obstacles. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Masada was the fortress defended by Jews against the Romans, famous for the mass suicide of the defenders when their defeat was certain. Here, in the form of journals, is the story told by a young Jew-and a Roman soldier, Flavius Silva, commander of the regiment that will destroy the Jews. The story is told beautifully from both points of view. On one hand, we're shown the tragedy as a sort of coming-of-age tale, with conflict with parents and friends, love, and terrible loss. On the other hand is Flavius' dislike of his commander, his feelings about the siege, and his duty as a loyal Roman. Historically it's accurate, including the betrayal of the Jews by Josephus and his rewriting of history.
VOYA - Kevin S. Beach
Successful YA author Miklowitz shifts gears in this fictionalized account of the Jews' standoff against the Roman army atop a mountain fortress in 73 A.D., cleverly told through two participants' journal entries. Simon, son of the Zealots' leader, wants to become a great physician. He details how Masada's one thousand inhabitants attempt to live normal lives as they await the inevitable arrival of Roman troops. The second journal's author is Roman commander Flavius Silva, who describes leading twenty thousand soldiers and Hebrew slaves across the barren desert to capture the rebels. Tensions mount on both sides as the Romans slowly gain a foothold on the mountainside. Simon relates the new routine and daily exposure to the horrors of war; ironically happy as he learns how to treat the wounded, he also proves to be a good warrior. Simon's friends and family are well developed as are the Roman leaders, highlighting the good and the bad on both sides. The Jews of Masada committed mass suicide rather than surrender, and this makes the hopes expressed by the characters more poignant; the reader wants Simon to find a way out. Flavius is a firm yet somewhat compassionate leader, puzzled by the Jews' resolve to fight to the death. His final entry describes the Romans, after months of frustration, breaking through the fortress' walls to make their grim discovery. Recommended for historical fiction lovers, this story has obviously been thoroughly researched. The events leading up to the Jewish revolt and the Roman rule in Palestine are explained by the characters, making the Zealots' determination to remain unconquered understandable. Although the dialogue is somewhat stilted, it suggests the flavor of a Biblical epic. Told mostly from the rebels' point of view, this is an exciting story in which everyday people must make some horrible wartime decisions. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).