2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the success of the women’s suffrage movement in Oregon. One of their banners reads, “Like the daughters of Zelophehad we ask for our inheritance.” In the Bible, the Daughters petitioned Moses for their father’s land since he had died without any sons. Astonishingly, Moses ruled in their favor, setting a Biblical precedent for women’s rights. Ruth Tenzer Feldman takes that concept and spins a powerful coming of age story that takes place on two timelines. In 1912, sixteen-year-old Miriam meets the mysterious Biblical figure Serakh, daughter of Asher. Using Miriam’s prayer shawl, which contains an ancient blue thread, Serakh takes Miriam back to the time of the Daughters and challenges her to make a difference, to stand up for what is right, in both the past and the present. The shawl reminds Miriam’s father of a painful family tragedy so, to spare his feelings, the mother hides it, of course at a crucial moment in the story. Miriam must develop courage and use her intelligence as well as her understanding of her family’s dynamics. As Miriam grows from a spoiled socialite into her destiny, the author examines expectations for young women and their roles in family life both in early twentieth century society and the larger world.
Blue Thread is part history lesson, part Torah study and a fast-paced fantasy and adventure, with a touch of romance. Miriam’s story is as valid for today as it was in 1912 and in Biblical times. Ruth Tenzer Feldman’s writing is beautiful, terse, and imaginative. Recommended for ages 12 and up.