Beginning where Nory Ryan's Song left off, this harrowing survival tale follows the journeys of Nory and her friend Sean. Alternate chapters tell two separate but equally grim accounts of hardships and loss, as the children travel on foot to a ship bound for America. Sean, waylaid by an errand (with the promise of food as repayment), loses sight of his traveling companions, his mother and Nory's younger brother, Patch. Without a ticket to board the Samson, he must find another way to gain passage. Meanwhile, Nory, who trails far behind her loved ones, is further delayed when she injures her foot and is robbed by a desperate child. Despite its grittiness, the novel succeeds in evoking a sense of hope as characters rely on their resourcefulness both to stay alive and to reach their destination. Giff strategically places strokes of good fortune so that readers are never submerged into bleak depths for too long a period. The thief who steals Nory's food, for instance, also provides her with a much-needed walking stick; Sean lands a job as cook's assistant on the Samson. Although the tedious walk to the ship may seem to readers nearly as long as the 40-day trip across the Atlantic, the book consistently expresses the children's strength and courage-which eventually leads them to one another and, later, to Maggie's door in Brooklyn. The protagonists' arrival in New York marks a new chapter in their life, hinting that another sequel may be in the works. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Nory Ryan has a dream that one day her family will all be together again. They will be in Brooklyn in America, standing outside the door of her sister Maggie's house. Sean "Red" Mallon also has a dream. He imagines himself together with his brother Francis and Francis' new young wife Maggie. Nory Ryan, his best friend and Maggie's sister will be there with her family, and they will all be standing outside Maggie's door. These two children have this same dream but for now they have only hunger and misery in their lives. With no hope left, the Ryans and Mallons have decided to leave Ireland, and in small groups have set off on foot for the nearest port to get a ship to England, and thence another ship to America. Starving, weak, and not knowing the world beyond their own small community, the straggling travelers lose one another in the chaos of a famine-stricken Ireland. Sean finds himself alone and has to make his own way to America without a ticket or money. Slowly and painfully, Nory and Sean converge on one another, finally reuniting. Patricia Reilly Giff keeps the children's stories in separate, alternating chapters, maintaining a state of suspense as to whether the family members will, in fact, be able to find one another. The author's description of the horrors of the famine in such a matter-of-fact way makes her story very powerful. The people accept what is happening to them, which appalls us. Their poverty is almost beyond our understanding and their suffering unspeakable. Patricia Reilly Giff is also is a master of the use of imagery. For example, she frequently describes the potato crop as a stinking "ooze" in contrast to the pretty bluish purple flowers that one sees blossomingin a field of healthy potato plants. The companion to Nory Ryan's Song, this is a book that most readers will find disturbing. At the same time, it reminds one of the strength and endurance of the human spirit and how powerful love can be. No matter how much people suffer, they can rise above it and still find the ability to keep on going and even able to help others. 2003, Wendy Lamb Books, Ages 9 to 12.
Gr 4-8-Fans of Nory Ryan's Song (Delacorte, 2000) will not want to miss this sequel. It begins as Nory leaves her home in Ireland a few days behind her friend Sean Red Mallon, his mother, and Nory's four-year-old brother, Patch, to embark on their journey to America. In alternating stories, Nory and Sean relate their distressing experiences as they make their way toward Nory's sister's house in Brooklyn. Both characters face trickery, cruelty, starvation, filthy conditions, and storms at sea, but they are determined to reach their destination. The theme is one of courage and hope for the future. The characters are developed fully, revealing their determination and courage, as well as their fears. Both Nory and Sean grow as individuals as they face each obstacle to their final goal. The mood of anticipation and apprehension is sustained as readers travel with them toward Maggie's door. Giff's descriptive language and detailed descriptions enable children to visualize the countryside and events along the way. Factual information on the potato blight and the resulting emigration is explained in an afterword. A welcome addition to any historical-fiction collection.-Margaret R. Tassia, Millersville University, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
With her sure storytelling voice and gentle-hearted touch, Giff spins another tale of immigration, this one her German great-grandmother's story. Dina is a typical teen, mooning over handsome soldiers and fashionable hats, and immigrating to an idealized America. Arriving in Brooklyn to stay with her Uncle and family, reality strikes: Dina is overwhelmed with homesickness and the uncle is impoverished. Worse, he expects her to pay for her keep by sewing all day, a skill that she possesses but despises. Predictably she makes her way, winning over the dour uncle, proving her worth, and making indispensable contributions to her new family. Like the best of Giff's heroines, Dina is winningly flawed, full of childish self-interest, but she grows in her understanding of herself, her skill with a needle, her place in the family, and the recognition that, like all immigrants, she will always have a heart in two places. The plot is swept along by dramatic truths of Brooklyn life in the 1870s: economic struggle, epidemic, and fire, as well as a hint of romance. Giff's fans will be pleased. (Fiction. 9-12)