Adele Geras
  • Review
By – March 14, 2012

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Great Britain in 1983 by Hamish Hamil­ton Children’s Books, the first U.S. edi­tion was pub­lished by Atheneum in 1983. The cur­rent edi­tion, in paper­back, was pub­lished in 2007, for ages twelve and up, by Har­court. The nov­el takes place in 1904, aboard the SS Danzig as Jews, flee­ing oppres­sion and pover­ty, trav­eled steer­age, bound for the U.S., hop­ing that a bet­ter life await­ed them. 

The nov­el con­cen­trates on the rela­tion­ships among a group of teenagers, their dreams and aspi­ra­tions for their new lives. The plot includes brief sketch­es as they express their per­son­al feel­ings about their cur­rent situation. 

All the young peo­ple, except Yankel, are extreme­ly vir­tu­ous. They fall in love, kiss, hug, and make plans for the future. For young read­ers, this may work, but it is not the real sto­ry of the trau­ma of trav­el­ing steer­age for the peo­ple who sur­vived the trip to America. 

The author has lived in Man­ches­ter, Eng­land for forty years and has pub­lished sev­en­ty-four books, most­ly for chil­dren and young peo­ple. She does a roman­ti­cized ver­sion of the true pic­ture of that black time in Jew­ish his­to­ry. Per­haps the young peo­ple who read Voy­age will be inspired to learn the true sto­ry as they mature.

Arlyne Samuels a grad­u­ate of Brook­lyn Col­lege, taught and super­vised Eng­lish in New York City for 40 years. She was the coor­di­na­tor of the book club of the Greater Worces­ter (MA) Chap­ter of Hadas­sah. Arlyne passed away in May 2009 and will be missed by the Jew­ish Book World team.

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