This novel tells the story of two 11-year-old girls from two different eras. Hannah Rosenthal is a Jewish girl in 1939 Berlin. She spends her days running through the city with her best friend Leo, hiding from the “Ogres” and worrying about their future. Anna Rosen is a girl in modern-day New York city living with her depressed mother who is still dealing with the aftermath of 9/11.
Hannah and Leo are the “lucky” ones and are able to pay for passage on the cruise ship SS St. Louis, bound for Havana. Because of the war, no one wants them, and only a small number of passengers are allowed to land in Havana. The others try for permission to land in the U.S. but are refused entry and end up back in Europe. England takes some and the rest end up in France, Belgium and Holland.
I loved these novel, as it is quite obviously sad and moving. Hannah was a strong woman who tried to have a good life, although her past cast quite a shadow over the rest of her life. Anna as a young girl is still hopeful for the future. I also thought that it was a relevant novel for this time of so many refugees. Before reading this book, I didn’t know about the St. Louis at all, so it was both interesting and enlightening at the same time. I highly recommend it. Well done, Correa!