Redel weaves two intertwined, but not overlapping, stories in this novel. A young boy writes a series of letters to Eleanor Roosevelt, describing his escape from the Holocaust across Europe to America on a boat left stranded off the Virginia coast. Many years later, as his daughter begins her own family, she explores the history of that journey in an effort to reconnect with her past and create the history her father has kept from her.
Well written and engaging, the novel skillfully explores the tension between a Holocaust survivor and his daughter, a generational and experiential gap that will surely resonate with many readers. Some may find the constant exchange between letter and narrative disruptive to the novel’s momentum, but such distractions lessen toward the end when the stories finally come together. Redel does a wonderful job incorporating the real-life account of the Quanza, a boat filled with refugees nearly returned to Europe during the Holocaust when no country would accept those on board. Notes.