“Is It Night or Day?”
By Fern Schumer Chapman
Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.99, ages 10-14
In 1942, four years after the novel’s opening, Edith, now 16, sits by Lake Michigan, having just heard about her family’s deaths in Germany. Fern Schumer Chapman tells the story of her mother’s life from a child’s point of view. The story recognizes, for instance, how exciting shipboard events and sightseeing in New York might seem to a child. Yet readers also feel Edith’s anxiety as she boards a train for Chicago, by herself, the ID card around her neck her only companion. She goes to an uncle’s home, whom she’s never met, and where her aunt and cousin are unwelcoming. The family’s Jewish identity is different from what she has known. Only very slowly does another American world emerge for her, starring baseball (the White Sox) and the national coverage of Hank Greenberg. Not a comfortable look back, but a convincing story of Edith’s bravery.
Mary Harris Russell