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The Girl in the Torch

The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets True Grit in this heartfelt novel of resilience, hope, and discovering a family where you least expect it, from award-winning author Robert Sharenow.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, thousands of immigrants are arriving in the promised land of New York City. Twelve-year-old Sarah has always dreamed of America, a land of freedom and possibility. In her small village she stares at a postcard of the Statue of Liberty and imagines the Lady beckoning to her. When Sarah and her mother finally journey across the Atlantic, though, tragedy strikes – and Sarah finds herself being sent back before she even sets foot in the country.

Yet just as Sarah is ushered onto the boat that will send her away from the land of her dreams, she makes a life-or-death decision. She daringly jumps off the back of the boat and swims as hard as she can toward the Lady’s island and a new life.

Her leap of faith leads her to an unbelievable hiding place: the Statue of Liberty itself. Now Sarah must find a way to Manhattan while avoiding the night watchman and scavenging enough food to survive. When a surprising ally helps bring her to the city, Sarah finds herself facing new dangers and a life on her own. Will she ever find a true home in America?

Genre: Children’s Fiction

The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow – book cover, description, publication history.

The Girl in the Torch

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The Girl in the Torch

  • Review

When her father is killed in a Russ­ian pogrom, 12 -year-old Sarah sails for Amer­i­ca with her moth­er, grip­ping a post­card of the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty in her hand for courage. Trag­i­cal­ly, her moth­er becomes ill and dies short­ly after they arrive at Ellis Island. Sarah is put on a ship head­ing back to the old coun­try. Impul­sive­ly, she jumps over­board and swims to Lib­er­ty Island, where she spends sev­er­al days sleep­ing in Lady Liberty’s torch and dodg­ing guards. She final­ly gets to the main­land, thanks to one of those guards — hard-drink­ing, dis­ap­point­ed-by-life Maryk, who brings Sarah to his Chi­na­town board­ing house where she is tak­en under the wing of the for­mi­da­ble Mrs. Lee.

Before long, she begins to make a home for her­self in the most unlike­ly of spots, with the most unlike­ly col­lec­tion of diverse immi­grants as her fam­i­ly. But it’s not that easy; there will be big hur­dles to jump if Sarah wants to make a new life here. Per­haps a lit­tle too sweet in places and requir­ing the will­ing sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief in oth­ers, the book nev­er­the­less con­veys the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, low­er Man­hat­tan melt­ing pot in all its big, messy glo­ry. It will keep read­ers engrossed and turn­ing the pages.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 12 .

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The Girl in the Torch Purchasing through our affiliates helps support JBC. The Girl in the Torch Review When her father is killed in a Russ­ian pogrom, 12 -year-old Sarah sails