CBR 14 Bingo: New
I’d left my knowledge of Ellis Island behind in fourth grade; I’ve never read any book about it before this.
Alma is a matron on Ellis Island; Francesca is a young woman hailing from Sicily. They become friends, but when as efforts to reduce corruption on the island come to the forefront, they must choose whether they will step forward or stay silent to protect themselves.
Long ago in elementary school, our teacher decided that a good way for us to learn about immigration in the early 1900s was to put on a play for our parents. We did not, of course, learn about the rife corruption among immigration officials – and there was plenty of it.
The author does a good job of showing the constraints that Francesca and Alma face for their gender and their rank in society. In this book we see people show a lot of kindness and a lot of cruelty, and the interplay between the two, which made for interesting reading. I also enjoyed the friendship of Francesca and Alma, and the way the two of them looked out for each other. The hints of romance were also very cute.
However, I definitely thought some parts of the story were weak. I did not understand why Francesca and Alma became such fast friends, and why Alma was so willing to help this woman specifically to the extents that she did. The conflict toward the end of the book, as well as its resolution, despite supposedly being high stakes, didn’t really grip me. I also wished the ending was not left so open.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review.