This book was absolutely fantastic! Through the perspectives of two women one either side of the immigration line, I learned so much about Ellis Island in the early 1900s!
Francesca has been through a harrowing journey with her sister across the ocean to arrive at America’s doorstep. Excited and nervous, her expectations are quickly reduced to nothing as everything goes wrong. Then she meets Alma, and they form a bond that takes the reader through this fantastic story.
The narration alternates between Francesca and Alma’s perspectives, giving us first view insight into each woman’s life. For Francesca, a lot of the story is about the horrors of trying to get through Ellis Island, but when she does get off, she still has to secure a job and a place to live. Francesca’s success in getting through Ellis was helped along by Alma. I would never call this girl spoiled, but we see her grow up a lot as the story progresses. She connects with Francesca and becomes determined to ensure that Francesca is successful in America.
Beyond the two women’s friendship, this story is about the bigger issues that Ellis Island had in the early 1900s. There was bribery, poor treatment of immigrants, and so many other things. Alma becomes a catalyst for change as the story progresses. I really enjoyed this as it was something I didn’t know happened. The author included news articles between the chapters that brought another historical angle into the writing.
I was absolutely captivated by this story, and I would highly recommend it for historical fiction readers!
Where to Find This Book:
Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: “Give me your tired, your poor…”
Ellis Island, 1902. Francesca arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life than the one she left in Italy. That same day, aspiring linguist Alma reports to her first day of work at the immigrant processing center. Ellis, though, is not the refuge it first appears thanks to President Roosevelt’s attempts to deter crime. Francesca and Alma will have to rely on each other to escape its corruption and claim the American dreams they were promised.
A thoughtful historical inspired by true events, this novel probes America’s history of prejudice and exclusion—when entry at Ellis Island promised a better life but often delivered something drastically different, immigrants needed strength, resilience, and friendship to fight for their futures.
Just the Facts:
The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pub Date: February 8, 2022
Heather Webb is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction. In 2017, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association award, and in 2019, MEET ME IN MONACO was shortlisted for both the RNA award in the UK and also the Digital Book World Fiction prize.
Up and coming, Heather’s new solo novel called THE NEXT SHIP HOME: A NOVEL OF ELLIS ISLAND is about unlikely friends that confront a corrupt system altering their fates and the lives of the immigrants who come after them, and it releases in Feb 2022. Also, look for her third collaboration with her beloved writing partner, Hazel Gaynor, THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE, releasing this July! (2021)
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.
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I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.