Among The Blossoms

Batya Ansell
  • Review
By – June 15, 2015

Rachel Mar­tin is hav­ing a tough year in mid­dle school. Her beau­ti­ful, old­er sis­ter dis­miss­es her, her moth­er ignores her, her father falls ill, a nerdy boy devel­ops a crush on her, and, for the first three weeks of school Rachel has a series of bad sub­sti­tute teach­ers in her Eng­lish class. But when Han­nah Yousef takes over as Rachel’s Eng­lish teacher, things start to improve. Mrs. Yousef seems to under­stand Rachel and encour­ages her thought­ful­ness and writ­ing tal­ent. Rachel also learns about the Holo­caust, as Mrs. Yousef is a sur­vivor and shares her sto­ry with her students. 

Batya Ansell, a child of Holo­caust sur­vivors and for­mer mid­dle school teacher has tak­en her life expe­ri­ences and writ­ten them into this sweet sto­ry. She under­stands the intri­ca­cies of mid­dle school and young teenagers and writes about their strug­gles with com­pas­sion. And she del­i­cate­ly weaves the sub­plot of World War Two and the his­to­ry of the Holo­caust into this sto­ry of teenage angst. Among the Blos­soms may inspire young girls who aren’t the most beau­ti­ful or pop­u­lar to devel­op their tal­ents, wher­ev­er they may lie. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for read­ers 10 – 12 years old.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

Discussion Questions