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The Violin Players

Overview

Melissa Jensen's life takes an unexpected turn when her father accepts a teaching assignment in a small town in the remote Midwest, far from her home in New York City. There she faces anti-Semitism for the first time. The Violin Players is a moving account of a teenage girl's growing awareness that neither Judaism nor friendship should be taken for granted.

When fifteen-year-old New Yorker Melissa Jensen and her parents move to the midwest, she is confronted by ...

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Overview

Melissa Jensen's life takes an unexpected turn when her father accepts a teaching assignment in a small town in the remote Midwest, far from her home in New York City. There she faces anti-Semitism for the first time. The Violin Players is a moving account of a teenage girl's growing awareness that neither Judaism nor friendship should be taken for granted.

When fifteen-year-old New Yorker Melissa Jensen and her parents move to the midwest, she is confronted by antisemitism for the first time, and she must decide whether to reveal her Jewish heritage to her classmates or to go along with the crowd.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Uprooted to the small Midwest town of Henryville for the remainder of the school year, Melissa finds this new place very different, yet similar in some ways to her life in New York. Social activities, attention from the football captain, a challenging school orchestra, participation in drama class, and friendship with a Jewish boy ease her transition. Melissa surprisingly blossoms and becomes anxious to explore her Jewish heritage when faced with anti-Semitism that rears its ugly head. Melissa's handling of this most uncomfortable position, being one of two Jews in her school, the pride she takes in her heritage, and the way that she faces the adversity shows the positives that young adults can make out of negatives in their lives. I was disappointed with the text in that, although careful attention was given to laying the foundation for the story, the conclusion was rushed and some characters were not fully developed.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Anti-Semitism is the dominant theme in this contrived high-school romance story. Melissa Jensen, a 4.0 student at an exclusive academy in New York City, moves to Henryville, MO, when her father, a famous playwright, is offered a teaching position at a small college for the year. The culture shock surprisingly delights Melissa as she eyes Chris, the football captain, as future date material. That is until she meets Daniel, a fellow violinist and actor. He, however, will not look in her direction because he is unaware that Melissa is Jewish. As the only known Jew in town, he receives the brunt of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Finally, toward the end of the novel, Melissa tells Chris that she, too, is Jewish. She ends up going to the prom with Daniel. Chris defends freedom of religion. And everyone lives happily ever after. The characterizations are shallow and predictable. However, the message is adequately addressed. A routine read that touches on important issues of prejudice.-Malka Keck, The Temple Tifereth Israel, Beachwood, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Her parents' decision to accept a temporary teaching stint at a small Missouri college leaves Melissa Jensen frustrated; it means leaving her New York City friends and school, where she excels in the orchestra and drama classes. She could have stayed with her grandparents, but the thought of living in their Orthodox Jewish home held no appeal for her. All the Jensens are in for a pleasant surprise, however. Chris, a handsome senior at Henryville High, meets them at the airport and delivers them to their beautiful new home, shows them their new Saab, and promises that he and his sister will help Melissa adjust. She settles in more quickly than she dreamed, working on her violin-playing, becoming assistant director for the production of Romeo and Juliet, and coaching multi-talented Daniel, the school's only observant Jew, in the leading role. But Daniel has become the target of cruel anti-Semitism, led by popular football star, hulking Johnny McGraw. Melissa feels a sense of shame for concealing her own Jewish identity, and for not knowing more about her religion. Other students join Melissa in condemning Johnny's behavior, admitting that they, believing that his opinions and pranks were harmless, had been silent too long. Sherman exhibits a heavy hand in outlining all this, but her characters prove more complex than they seem initially, and she keeps the plot moving along at a good clip. Melissa's crush on Chris and her eventual deeper feelings for Daniel make this ideal for romance readers, and its message is one that always bears repeating. (Fiction. 10-14) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780827605954
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication date: 9/16/1998
  • Pages: 120
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 0.44 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

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