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Journey to America Saga: Journey to America
Ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 1987, 0-689-71130-1
Life in Berlin has changed a great deal in the last few years and now Lisa, Ruth, and Annie Platt’s parents are talking about leaving Germany. Papa has decided to go to America where he will work as hard as he can to make enough money to pay for tickets to bring the rest of the family to America. The reason for the change in their lives is that the Platt’s are Jews and Jews no longer feel wanted nor do they safe in Germany under the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.
With Papa gone Lisa and her family try to go on as normally as possible and then, when the time is right, they tell everyone that they are going on a vacation to Switzerland. In actual fact they are beginning their journey to America but they cannot let anyone know. Doing everything they can to appear as if they are only going away for a short while, Mother and the girls get on a train for Zurich. There is always the fear that they will be stopped by the authorities for some reason, that someone will find fault with them, but in the end they are allowed to cross the border though Ruth has her violin confiscated.
In Zurich Mother quickly realizes that the little money she has is not going to go stretch very far. How on earth is she going to manage to pay for a place to live and for food while she waits for Papa to send for them? In the end she has to appeal to a charity organization for help. They find a place for Lisa and Ruth in a camp for refugee children. At least if they stay there Mother won’t have to pay for their keep. It is a dreadful situation but at least the girls will be able to see Mother once in a while and it is only a temporary state of affairs.
Bravely Ruth and Lisa go to the camp without complaining, hoping that Papa will soon be able to send the family their tickets so that they can all go to America together. Surely America will be a good place for them. Surely there they will be free and not have to worry that brown shirts will come to kill them in the night.
In this first book in the “America Journey Saga” series Sonia Levitin gives her readers a very moving picture of what it was like to be a young Jewish girl living in Germany in the late 1930’s. Readers will see how terrible it was to be a refugee with no home, no money, and no clear idea of what the future would be like. Refugee children all over the world, before and since the rise of Nazi Germany, have experienced similar misery and uncertainties. And many of them have taken refuge in the United States, just as Lisa’s family is finally able to do in this story. For them, as for Lisa and her family, the United States is a place where new lives can be built.
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