I really enjoyed Robert Sharenow’s “The Girl in the Torch”. The story is about a girl named Sarah who has traveled to North America i(the United States) n early 1900’s.
The crime activity is high in the country where they are from. A relative sends a postcard with the statue of liberty and Sarah's father starts setting money aside hoping that one day they will make the voyage to the promised land.
When Sarah’s father is killed, she and her mom get on a boat by themselves and leave their country behind – hopefully never to return.
The Statue of Liberty is a sign of hope, and they are happy to see it.
When they arrive in New York, Sarah is forced to part company with her mother who had gotten sick on the boat. After her mother passes, the authorities tell Sarah that she has to be sent back to her native land where an uncle lives. Sarah tells she the authorities that she has a relative in Brooklyn, but when the authorities are unable to contact the relative, they put Sarah on a boat to take her back.
As the boat pulls away and Sarah looks again upon the Statue of Liberty, she decides to jump off the boat and swim toward the statue.
The story shares Sarah’s life on Ellis Island and then in New York – where after a time a judgement is brought against her to send her back to her native country.
I really enjoyed following Sarah through her journey and the friendships that were made and the compassion that is shown in this story. I thought it might be historical fiction, but the author makes note that not all of the facts brought up were true to the situation.
At the conclusion of the book are his commentaries and then a time line about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There were some things that I had remembered reading about already, but even more that I hadn’t known. I enjoyed reading about that as well.
It is written in third person and I think geared to 4th to 8th grade reading levels. Though I’m obviously outside of that range, and I enjoyed it.
I highly recommend this book.