Review of Someday We Will Fly

Someday We Will Fly
by Rachel DeWoskin
Middle School, High School    Viking    360 pp.    g
1/19    978-0-670-01496-5    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-101-61788-5    $10.99

In 1940, Lillia’s Jewish family plans to escape the Nazi threat in Warsaw for Shanghai. Her parents are acrobats, and when their circus is raided, Lillia and her father and sister are separated from the girls’ mother and must make the journey without knowing her fate. Once there, the family lives among other refugees in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, and Lillia attends an international Jewish school. She begins to interact with local people via her friendship with Wei, a boy who works at the school, and later his sister Aili. Lillia (fifteen when the story begins) starts out somewhat naive, and DeWoskin sensitively shows her maturing as she comes to realize the privilege she has over Shanghai-born Wei and Aili, even as a refugee, and the repercussions her actions can have for them. Her growth also involves accepting the role of sole breadwinner when her father and sister fall ill; left without many options, she takes a job dancing and socializing at a club for wealthy Japanese men. Though a climactic revelation seems perhaps too good to be true, the novel is honest about the impossibility of a completely happy ending. Prose thick with description details 1940s Shanghai through the eyes of a first-person narrator trying to make sense of a setting completely new to her. A personal and informative author’s note and an extensive list of sources make it evident that this novel highlighting a WWII story rarely told in YA is a well-researched one.

From the March/April 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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