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While browsing the juvenile section at the public library this afternoon, my eye was caught by the cover of a novel on display, depicting a young red-headed girl standing on the torch walk of the Statue of Liberty at night. (Also, the lettering the publisher chose for the title. So pretty!) Of course I had to read the jacket description, and add The Girl in the Torch, by Robert Sharenow, immediately to my stack of books to check out.

Sarah, a young immigrant from Russia, arrives in America only to be told she can’t enter after all. Orphaned and unwilling to live with her only known relative in the old country, she makes the daring choice to jump overboard and finds refuge in Lady Liberty, “Mother of Exiles.” From there, she ends up making unexpected friends in a Chinatown lodging house, who help her find her independence.

At 286 pages including notes, this was a fairly quick read for me, between probably a little over two hours. [Note: I’m a fast reader.] There was just enough detail throughout to give a sense of the time period (turn of the 20th century), without bogging down the story with exposition. And the story had a little bit of everything (including newsies!)—adventure, heartbreak, excitement, humor, and the uncertainty of being in a new world completely foreign to what you’ve previously known. I recommend it to anyone wanting a new perspective on what New York City looked like through immigrant eyes.

Clicking on the book cover above takes you to an Amazon affiliate link.