Jewish Values: The Lily Pond

Number of Pages: 
216 p.
A companion story to A Faraway Island and the second in a series of four novels about Stephanie (“Stephie”) and Nellie Steiner, Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Vienna, Austria sent by their parents to an island off Sweden for safety. The plan is for the girls’ parents to stay in Vienna and attain visas for the family to immigrate to the United States. Stephie, now thirteen years old, has qualified for a scholarship to attend “grammar school” on the mainland in the city of Goteborg. There, she stays with the affluent Sodersberg family, who rented a summer home on the island from Stephie’s host parents, Aunt Marta and Uncle Evert. Dr. and Mrs. Sodersberg treat Stephie as a boarder and have little interaction with her. However, their son Sven is very kind to her and she develops a crush on him. At grammar school, Stephie befriends May, another scholarship student who comes from a very poor family. Stephie also observes a withdrawn Jewish girl, Alice, who pointedly ignores her. Class struggles are a recurring theme in this novel. At one time, after Stephie confronts Alice about her nasty behavior towards Stephie, Alice replies that Jewish refugees like Stephie embarrass her family, who are part of Swedish society. Also, Sven hides his relationship with a girl from the lower income side of town from his snobbish parents. Eventually, Alice gets Stephie in trouble at school and almost causes her to leave. Alice’s odd behavior makes her a mysterious character and the story would have been more interesting if she were developed more. Back in Vienna, Stephie’s parents’ lives are increasingly difficult as they face setbacks when trying to emigrate to the United States.
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