A Hidden Jew

March 10, 2015

Incantation

The Author is Alice Hoffman, she lives outside of Boston and is the authors of nearly twenty acclaimed novels. Some of her books have been made into motion pictures. The book is about two friends, Estrella and Catalina. This story is located in the century in Spain when Jews were refusing to convert to Christianity and were suffering the consequences. Estrella thought she knew herself and her family and enjoyed her life, but then she discovers the truth. She loves the wrong person and something that simple unravels the truth. It tells about her friendship crashes and burns and shows the struggles Estrella has to face. She becomes someone she never thought she would be.

“Why didn’t our great-great-grandparents leave this place instead of living false lives? The court took the children when they cast out the Jews. They wouldn’t give them back until the people of your great-great-grandparents’ time converted. They should have run away after that. We've always lived here, my mother said. Five hundred years of bones are in this earth.” This shows how they Jews were being forced to convert. It would have been easier for them to just up and leave instead of dealing with what they had to go through. Then her mother explains how important the land is and how all their ancestors had been buried there and they couldn’t just leave. It talks about how they took their children and that is only one of the many cruel things they did to the Jews.

Because Estrella and her family are hidden Jews, they have to go through the daily conflict of trying to hide who they really are. Then whenever her “friend” see her and a boy kiss, they start to fight and their friendship falls apart. He friend is so mad that she goes and tells on Estrella and her family. They then have to face the conflict of going through the consequences of being a Jew. Her parents get taken away from her and trailed and put in jail. She then faces the problem of deciding whether or not to leave her home.

To keep it interesting Hoffman keeps adding details. She tells about Estrella’s experiences. She tells what happens but she doesn’t stop there. She tells about what her and her family do along the way, also about what she does whenever her family gets taken away and her and her grandmother are left alone.

The whole history of the book is about in Spain when the Spanish were forcing the Jews to convert to Christianity. It talks about how they banned the Jewish books and considered anyone who practiced anything suspicious to be sorcerers. It explains how the people were separated and the Jews were forced to live in a juderia, which is a gated area in a part of Encaleflora. Hoffman uses the Spanish inquisition and weaves all the things that happened into the story.

This book was really good and kept me interested. It has a good story about history while also adding a little love and tragedy. It was interesting how Hoffman made the stories mix together. I definitely recommend that you read this book.
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