Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sofia’s Immigrant Diary: Book One - Hope in my Heart:

Sofia’s Immigrant Diary: Book One - Hope in my Heart:

Kathryn Lasky
Historical Fiction  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Scholastic, 2003   ISBN: 978-0439449625

Sofia is on the boat steaming away from her home in Italy and going towards a new life in America. It is turning out to be a very long and uncomfortable journey and Sofia finds herself thinking about home, and often the food that she used to eat at home; those wonderful ripe tomatoes and the home-made tortellini that she liked so much.

At last they hear the cry that "Lady Liberty" has been sighted. Even this momentous experience is spoiled for Sofia when, as she is looking at the beautiful statue, a cinder blows into her eye which hurts a great deal.

At Ellis Island Sofia’s trials really begin for she is separated from her family. Her red eye (caused by that unfortunate cinder) is suspected of being the dreaded eye disease trachoma and therefore Sofia is not allowed to enter the United States. Instead she has to remain in quarantine until her eye can be examined further.

Sofia soon finds that she one of many people who have been detained at Ellis Island for one reason or another. She also discovers that there are things going on beneath the surface that are dreadfully wrong and frightening. She begins to wonder if she is ever going to be able to rejoin her family or if she is to be at the mercy of her captors.

Kathryn Lasky captures the fear and confusion that Sofia experiences with great skill and understanding. It is horrifying to learn that sometimes people were detained simply to get money out of them in the form of bribes. Some corrupt officials took advantage of the helpless immigrants in a very cruel and heartless way, and Sofia’s story shows this to great effect.

This is book one in a series of three books about Sofia’s "Immigrant Story."