The Ship to Nowhere: On Board the Exodus is a part true, part fictionalized story of one family’s journey aboard the Exodus. We follow eleven-year-old Rachel Landesman, her sister, and their mother as they set off aboard theSS President Warfield, the ship commissioned to take them from France to Palestine. The ship is escorted the whole way by a British warship, determined to block entry into the Holy Land at all costs. Along the way, we are introduced to other children aboard the ship. As we learn their stories, we see bits and pieces of the devastation caused by the Holocaust. We also read about the bravery of the young rebels who helped many survivors reach Israel.
As the ship nears Palestine, its true name, Haganah Ship Exodus 1947, is revealed, and the flag of Israel is flown overhead. As soon as the Exodus crosses into Palestinian waters, the warship bombards it, first with tear gas, then by ramming into its side. The passengers are taken from the damaged vessel and are sent back to Europe but no country will take in the refugees. They are finally forced to return to Europe to wait until the state of Israel is declared and they can complete their journey.
Author Rona Arato combines the facts surrounding the Exodus and Rachel’s real journey with added fictional characters to create a dramatic retelling of this courageous voyage. She has scattered many actual photographs from this time period throughout the book, helping to set the stage and allowing us to ride along with Rachel and her family. The Ship to Nowhere: On Board the Exodus is an excellent book with a compelling story for children ages 9 —14. It is highly recommended both for its reliable information and for the engaging way that the information is presented.
Marcia Berneger is a retired teacher who lives with her husband and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and second grade, as well as special education. She currently teaches Torah school, in addition to her volunteer work in classrooms, libraries, and with various fundraisers. She lives in San Diego.