It's the year 1095, and fifteen-year-old Anna longs for a different life in her small German village. But as the seasons turn, the year proves anything but ordinary. Her beloved youngest cousin disappears, and another cousin, Martin, runs away to join a murderous army of renegade Crusaders. When Anna risks everything to rescue Leah, an orphaned Jewish girl whose only connection to her former life is a silver cup, the two girls forge a friendship that defies the intolerance of their time.
Filling her story with fascinating period details, debut novelist Constance Leeds paints a rich, colorful picture of an eleventh-century life marked by courage, will, and most of all--hope.
Leeds's first novel closely examines cultural tensions between Christians and Jews in the years leading up to the First Crusade. Anna, a 15-year-old German girl, tends to her father, Gunther, and cousin, Martin, doing her best to keep their house in order, though her critical aunt often makes her feel inadequate ("What are you doing you useless snail?... The chickens are hungry. The house is a mess!"). Anna dreams of journeying beyond her small medieval village, but in 1095, her options are limited. Amid widespread hostility toward Jews, Pope Urban calls for a Crusade to the Holy Land, and Martin decides to join ("Think of the riches and the glory!... I should love to see Jerusalem and kill an infidel"). Anna and her father travel to Worms days after an army of Crusaders obliterates the city's Jewish Quarter. Amid the rubble, Anna discovers Leah, the only survivor of the attack. Leah's sole reminder of her family is a small silver cup that belonged to her brother. Anna insists on bringing Leah home despite the consequences: Anna is shunned and mocked by family and friends, and Gunther fears for both girls' safety. Ultimately, Anna finds a true friend in Leah, and Leeds uses their friendship to great effect as the girls form a close bond, allowing a glimmer of hope to shine through the rampant prejudice. Other subplots, including the disappearance of one of Anna's cousins, factor in, but it is Anna's feisty nature and her determination to stand up for her personal ideals that should win her many admirers. Ages 12-up. Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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April 04, 2007
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