The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow

The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow

Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rated: MG 12+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
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In the first middle grade novel from award-winning author Robert Sharenow, a young immigrant must do everything she can—including hide inside the Statue of Liberty—in order to make it to America and find a true home for herself.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, thousands of immigrants are arriving in the promised land of New York City. Twelve-year-old Sarah has always dreamed of America, a land of freedom and possibility. In her small village she stares at a postcard of the Statue of Liberty and imagines the Lady beckoning to her. When Sarah and her mother finally journey across the Atlantic, though, tragedy strikes—and Sarah finds herself being sent back before she even sets foot in the country. 

Yet just as Sarah is ushered onto the boat that will send her away from the land of her dreams, she makes a life-or-death decision. She daringly jumps off the back of the boat and swims as hard as she can toward the Lady’s island and a new life.

Her leap of faith leads her to an unbelievable hiding place: the Statue of Liberty itself. Now Sarah must find a way to Manhattan while avoiding the statue’s night watchman and scavenging enough food to survive. When a surprising ally helps bring her to the city, Sarah finds herself facing new dangers and a life on her own. Will she ever find a true home in America?

From acclaimed author Robert Sharenow comes this heartfelt novel of resilience, hope, and discovering a family where you least expect it, perfect for fans of Inside Out & Back Again and Number the Stars.

This book has been liked to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and while I haven’t read Brian Selznick’s book, I absolutely adored the film adaption. The Girl in the Torch, while it shares some similarities with Hugo, was a fantastic and unique novel. This was a short book so it proved to be a quick read that I devoured in one sitting. I haven’t learned much of America's history, but I knew bits and pieces about Ellis Island and so this was an interesting perspective onto the difficult process of getting into the US–which hasn’t changed much even today. 

I’ve been to Liberty Island once or twice before, but it sure must be something else to stand from the crown, looking at the sights below and around. I was totally envious of Sarah at this point. Not the other stuff, like being alone and in the dark and scavenging for food from trash, but that feeling of endlessness. Sarah’s character truly endures so much, which is really sad for someone so young. In the author’s note Sharenow mentions that her country is not mentioned and this was to make the story universal. I think he really succeeded with this intention because that feeling of wanting a new life or wanting to belong really resonated with me and should with other readers. It also helped that there’s such a diverse cast of characters in this book. At the beginning of the twentieth century I can only imagine the various people from around the world who had arrived in the US looking for a better life. Of course, among these people you find many races and nationalities presented in The Girl in the Torch: American Indian, Chinese, Black, Irish, Italian. I really loved how she identifies with most of them, despite difference in religion and background.

The author has managed to bring to life the many wonders and troubles found in this period of time by capturing the fabulous setting of New York in the 1900s. I really enjoyed this strong and beautiful book that I’m sure will have readers of all ages mesmerised with the story and relatable main character. A great historical adventure that highlights the value of friendship, family, and never giving up.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Megan at HarperCollins International for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

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  1. This is one of my favorite eras and I'm all for costumes too! Sounds wonderful!

  2. Such a cute looking read. I don't read MG but I think my cousin will enjoy this one! Great review :)


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