Two Suns in the Sky

Two Suns in the Sky

4.4 15
by Miriam Bat-Ami
     
 

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In the fall of 1944, approximately one thousand refugees from liberated Italy were brought to a refugee shelter set up by the U.S. government at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York; Miriam Bat-Ami has used this little-known camp as the basis for a thought-provoking novel. She tells her story in two voices: that of Adam Bornstein, a fifteen-year-old refugee from Zagreb,… See more details below

Overview

In the fall of 1944, approximately one thousand refugees from liberated Italy were brought to a refugee shelter set up by the U.S. government at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York; Miriam Bat-Ami has used this little-known camp as the basis for a thought-provoking novel. She tells her story in two voices: that of Adam Bornstein, a fifteen-year-old refugee from Zagreb, Yugoslavia; and Christine Cook, a fifteen-year-old resident of Oswego. The two story lines begin to intertwine, and we are witness to Chris's inner awakenings as she grapples with the problems her growing attachment to Adam brings, especially as they come into conflict with her Catholic upbringing and her father's strong prejudice against the refugees. Adam's story-his family's escape, his journey to America with his mother and younger sister, his life in the camp, and his feelings for Chris-has the stronger momentum. His relationship with his younger sister Mira is particularly poignant as he keeps alive her special memories of their father. The relationship between the two young people moves events toward a mutual understanding of who they are, what they mean to each other, and what they want in a postwar world. Bat-Ami's story is most timely, reflecting not only what is happening now in many places around the world but also America's attitude toward immigrants and refugees. Adam brings home the crux of America's issue with refugees when he says, "To many of you we are not people...we are a problem you have not solved." Never didactic, Bat-Ami uses her story to probe this issue with sensitivity and depth. martha walke

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Just after Rome is liberated in 1944, 17-year-old Yugoslavian Jewish refugee Adam Bornstein, his mother and young sister are among those offered passage to spend the duration of the war in what will be America's sole refugee camp, in Oswego, N.Y. Despite the barbed-wire fences and the guards, Adam enjoys a romance with an Oswego girl, Christine Cook, who, to be with Adam, surmounts barriers of her own, namely, the prejudices of her father and the warnings of her priest "to keep the purity of focus of your faith." Adam and Chris take turns narrating, and Bat-Ami's (Dear Elijah) extensive interviews with Oswego natives and internees pay off in convincing observations. Quotes from these interviews serve as epigraphs for each chapter; unfortunately, this device points up the occasional shortcomings of Bat-Ami's fictional interpretations (e.g., mannered or self-conscious speech). Some readers, too, will find the slow setup hard going. But those who persevere will enjoy the attention paid to an obscure corner of home-front America and will be challenged by the questions Bat-Ami realistically frames about tolerance and its absence. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
This YA novel is the winner of the Scott O'Dell Award and is an ALA Best Book for YAs. It parallels the YA novel Good Night, Maman, written by Norma Fox Mazer, since both are about young European Jews brought to America for refuge at Fort Oswego in upstate New York in the last year of WW II. Two Suns in the Sky has two narrators: Adam, a Yugoslavian Jew brought to the camp; and Chris, an American teenager yearning for adventure, who falls in love with Adam. This is above all a love story, and as such, it will be popular with a wide variety of teenage readers, especially since Chris goes against her Catholic family's wishes because Adam is a Jew and a refugee. The forbidden love theme never fails. Both Adam and Chris are well-developed characters, thanks to the skill of Bat-Ami, who manages to create smart, sensitive teenagers who have very different life experiences but who find in each other what they are looking for: security, love, adventure. The experiences of Adam, coming to America with his mother and little sister, leaving behind his father and older brother not knowing if they are still alive, are vividly portrayed, with all the pathos of that situation. Chris, living in relative comfort and security in small town America, is hungry to know more about the larger world, and Adam is the answer to her longing. All YA readers will love reading how they manage to meet one another, deceiving their family, desperate for time alone together. There is a lot of sexual tension between them, but what they do about it is all PG-13. The romantic quality—the title; the "war brought them together—and tore them apart" quote on the cover accompanied by a picture of younglovers separated by a wire fence—will attract many readers. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Penguin, Puffin., , Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-During World War II, a group of European refugees are sent to Oswego, NY. The story is told through the eyes of Adam Bornstein, a 15-year-old Jewish boy from Croatia; and Chris Cook, a 15-year-old Catholic Irish-American girl. Adam is, of course, confused by the new country, but he's also achieved a certain wariness and street smarts through his experiences. Chris, on the other hand, is a naive and bored teenager for whom the war is mostly a distant abstraction. The young people come alive through the author's effective, alternating first-person narrations through which readers gain a sense not only of the characters' feelings, but the feelings of the two different communities as well. Eventually, Chris and Adam are attracted to one another, which leads to hands groping under sweaters and two socks removed. Chris's father reacts negatively to this relationship and kicks his daughter out of the house. This leads the teens to take a day trip to New York City (upon her return, Chris is forgiven). However, the love story is really secondary to the story of two communities adjusting to one another: the refugees living in barracks must learn about Americans; the residents of Oswego must learn to live with the refugees in their midst. These trials and adjustments are particularly well conveyed. This is a fine novel based, in part, on real-life incidents now more than 50 years passed, but still relevant today.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
In the fall of 1944, approximately one thousand refugees from liberated Italy were brought to a refugee shelter set up by the U.S. government at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York; Miriam Bat-Ami has used this little known camp as the basis for a thought-provoking novel. She tells her story in two voices: that of Adam Bornstein, a fifteen-year-old refugee from Zagreb, Yugoslavia; and Christine Cook, a fifteen-year-old resident of Oswego. The two story lines begin to intertwine, and we are witness to Chris's inner awakenings as she grapples with the problems her growing attachment to Adam brings, especially as they come into contact with her Catholic upbringing and her father's strong prejudice against the refugees. Adam's story — his family's escape, his journey to America with his mother and younger sister, his life in the camp, and his feelings for Chris- has the stronger momentum. His relationship with his younger sister Mira is particularly poignant as he keeps alive her special memories of their father. The relationship between the two young people moves events towards a mutual understanding of who they are, what they mean to each other, and what they want in a postwar world. Bat-Ami's story is most timely, reflecting not only what is happening now in many places in the world, but also America's attitude towards immigrants and refugees. Adam brings home the crux of America's issue with refugees when he says, "To many of you we are not people...we are a problem you have not solved." Never didactic, Bat-Ami uses her story to probe this issue with sensitivity and depth.
The Bulletin of for Childrens Books
Chris is a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl living a circumscribed life in the small town of Oswego, New York; Adam is a fifteen-year-old Jewish Refugee assigned to the refugee shelter at Fort Oswego the summer of 1944. Chris is filled with yearning- for love, for experience, for a future that Oswego simple cannot offer. Adam is also filled with yearning- for safety, for freedom, for romantic love. They see each other across the barbed wire fence of the refugee camp and eventually in class at the local high school. Their relationship is tinged with tragedy as the two, so different, fall in love against the express wishes of Chris's bigoted Irish-American father and the implied wishes of Adam's long-suffering mother. Bat-Ami captures the startled awareness of young adolescents in love for the first time, the awareness of two individuals who, briefly, exist only in relation to one another. Told in the alternating voices of Chris and Adam, the story has the intimate tone of confession, interspersed occasionally with facsimiles of official documents related to the efugee situation. Each chapter opens with quotes from real Oswego refugees, from Oswego residents who witnessed the camp, or from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, allowing echoes of history and tragic love to resonate in this tale of romantic destiny. The gestalt of world events is reflected in the small-mindedness of those town residents who are prejudiced against the religion and race of the refugees and resent their presence. Day-to-day life on the homefront is documented without awkwardness, melding smoothly with the characters' voices, but always the relationship between Adam and Chris is foremost. Poignant, passionate, and bittersweet, their story is a moving reminder of the power of first love. An author's note and extensive acknowledgements give historical context and specifics about Bat-Ami's research. (starred review)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142300367
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
11/28/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
448,023
Product dimensions:
4.50(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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