ACROSS SO MANY SEAS review by allisoncashman
Age Range - 8 - 12
Genre - Historical Fiction

LitPick Review

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Age at time of review - 25
Reviewer's Location - Shawnee, KS, United States
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     Across So Many Seas by Ruth Behar follows the stories of tween and teenage girls in the lineage of a Spanish-Jewish family. Tracking the history of the Jewish culture within the Spanish-speaking community throughout the generations, the story sets the protagonists as Benvenida in 1492 Spain, Reina in 1923 Turkey, Alegra in 1961 Cuba, and Paloma in 2003 America. From the Spanish Inquisition to Fidel Castro’s reign in Cuba, the story sees the girls facing challenges during these memorable events in world history that force them to question their values surrounding their religious customs and ethnic identities. An adventure and historical fiction novel, Across So Many Seas focuses on what stays within a family and what is left behind over the centuries.


     Ruth Behar does a wonderful job of putting the reader in the protagonists’ shoes by utilizing the first-person writing style to evoke empathy. The text contains a combination of Spanish and Hebrew words, both of which are easily understood due to context clues and aid in placing the reader within the mindset of the Spanish-Jewish culture. Additionally, various poems and songs are scattered throughout the story, further emphasizing the culture of the family the reader is following and linking them through the generations of girls. Behar pays specific attention to one song about a girl in a tower. This song acts as a strong symbol for readers to pick up on that helps to weave the overall story into one cohesive piece.

     The transition between the generations of girls felt natural and smooth, especially between Reina, Alegra, and Paloma. However, the transition from Benvenida to Reina felt too large of a time gap in comparison to the other girls. There was less empathy gained for Benvenida because of this factor. There are themes of violence, persecution, religious discrimination, political turbulence, and death throughout the novel that are suitable for a young adult audience. Across So Many Seas keeps the reader engaged with the conflict the girls face, and it ultimately stirs up sensations of hope, warmth, gratitude, and a new understanding of a niche culture.

Content Rating:

Content rating - some mature content

Explain your content rating: 

This book displays the persecution and discrimination of the Spanish-Jewish population, including instances referring to death and violence. This theme is ongoing throughout the book.




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