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by Shaked Karabelnicoff, entering Grade 8 , Gray Academy

Isabel and her parents live in Toledo, Spain during the early 1490's as a devout Christian family. Isabel's father is a well known and respected physician in the court of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and Isabel's family is very well off. She has no fear of the Spanish inquisition or of the Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada. Why should she? After all Isabel is a good Christian; she goes to mass every Sunday and prays to the Virgin Mary.

This all changes when Isabel discovers that in fact her family are new Christians with Jewish roots. Living in Spain at that time Isabel has always been taught that Jews are loathsome, evil creatures; how could Isabel herself be one of these? 

 For her own safety she is betrothed to Luis, a man whom Isabel deeply dislikes but must marry. Luis comes from a well respected old Christian family. Isabel's father believes that Luis can protect Isabel from the inquisition and will not let himself be convinced otherwise. 

All Isabel's unanswered questions suddenly begin to fall into place. She must be hesitant when she speaks of her true roots. No one can be trusted. Behind every wall is someone listening. Behind every smiling face are hidden secrets from the mouths that spread hate. Friends turn to enemies. Everything unravels too quickly when Isabel's life is drowning in a fear she never imagined she would have. Jew.
The Last Song is a 225 page historical fiction novel about the Spanish Inquisition. Full of romance, suspense, tragedy and fear the book teaches readers to follow your instincts and always be true to yourself. It is a perfect book for adolescents both Jewish and not. Not only because it centers around Isabel who is fifteen but because most teenagers now a days are not aware of the tragedies that happened during the Spanish Inquisition. The detailed writing creates a movie in my mind, with exact images of what is happening in the book. Another one of the things I like about this book is that it is a shorter book but with a lot of impact. It is entertaining and interesting to read yet it teaches you so much. I really enjoyed the book. The story plot had different surprises at every turn and the history part was very accurate and interesting.
What Other Critics Are Saying: “…Wiseman steeps the reader in the almost unbelievable time of the Spanish Inquisition… The markets, the dust and the sweat-soaked life on the streets of Toledo spring to life under Wiseman’s pen." —CM Magazine
"Wiseman (Puppet) adeptly portrays the threatening atmosphere of fear and prejudice that compels citizens into distasteful choices: Isabel’s forced betrothal, for safety’s sake, to a Catholic man she despises; old friends refusing her desperate family’s entreaties for help once their heritage is known." —Publishers Weekly
About Eva Wiseman: Eva Wiseman was born in Hungary and came to Canada with her family when she was a girl. Her novels for young adults have made a strong impression on both readers and critics. A two-time winner of the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award for No One Must Know and her most recent novel Puppet (Tundra, 2009), she has also received the prestigious Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Kanada. She has twice been named to the New York Library’s annual Best Books for the Teen Age list with A Place Not Home and My Canary Yellow Star. Wiseman lives in Winnipeg
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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