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Rachel’s Hope (Book Three in the Rachel Trilogy) by Shelly Sanders

Just how tough are you?

Interests/Topics: survival, political reform, religion, world history, journalism, social justice, historical fiction

Curriculum Connections: English, World History, Religious Studies, Political Science

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: So I was standing in the hallway of my high school one morning when the ground dropped out from beneath me. True story. Seconds before it happened I was trying to figure out why my locker was trembling. I lived in Los Angeles; you’d think that I’d have clued in that we were having an earthquake, but my mind hadn’t yet registered this realization. I just thought that somebody was goofing off at the other end of the hall.

My friends and I were sadly mistaken, however, in thinking that we’d be sent home. The ground had quaked for cryin’ out loud…if that isn’t a big enough reason to cancel Algebra class, then what is? But no, we had to stay and sit through our lessons while small aftershocks trembled underneath our feet. Just another day in Southern California.

When Rachel in Rachel’s Hope is woken by an earthquake, her life shifts dramatically again. But she isn’t forced to sit through a day of lessons; she must flee to escape being crushed by the collapsing walls.

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake isn’t the first time Rachel nearly met death. She’d already survived a massacre in Russia (that killed her father), a long, exhausting exodus to Shanghai (that killed her mother), and a boat ride across the Pacific Ocean to America. She’s been persecuted for her religion, her choice of friends, and her gender. She’s nearly starved to death, and she’s worked harder than she ever thought possible…all for the sake of achieving her dream. And now her house, and everything she’s saved, is gone.

After years of loss, Rachel’s no longer sure she’s got the strength to carry on. Her sole possession is the nightgown on her back.

Parents, home, possessions, dignity. When is enough, enough?

Flavour:If only I could have stopped Mikhail’s uncle, she wrote in Yiddish. For as long as I live, I will regret my actions, my cowardice. She stopped, dipped her pen in the inkwell and stared off into the darkness before continuing. I regret also my friendship with Mikhail. I see now that it was wrong, that people from two different worlds do not belong together. She blew on the page to dry the ink, closed her journal, and tried to go to sleep. But all night she twisted and turned, consumed by a flame that grew bigger and bigger in her mind until it was out of control.” (Rachel’s Secret 39)

“As the train gathered speed along the tracks, Rachel looked out the dirty window at the town passing by, a distorted jumble of shapes and images that were hard to recognize as the train accelerated. She couldn’t believe they were actually leaving Kishinev, where they had been born, where her father had lived and died, where Chaia still lay, unable to speak, and where she had grown to care for Sergei more than she ever could have imagined.” (Rachel’s Secret 238)

“All of a sudden she felt overwhelmed by the distance they had traveled. For the first time in her life, she was in a different unknown country. She worried that her mother had become desperately ill and could no longer guide them. Their funds were dwindling, and Rachel felt the enormous responsibility toward Menahem, since Sergei had placed him in her hands.” (Rachel’s Promise 75)

Living in Shanghai has been bittersweet for me, thought Rachel. Losing Mother yet gaining a brother in Jacob. Working in the horrid laundry yet gaining valuable writing experience with Mr. Ezra. Becoming as close to Shprintze as if we were sisters, yet having to say goodbye. I will never forget me time here, but I’m anxious to leave.” (Rachel’s Promise 260)

“For me, this is the only place in the world right now! You can find everything here: melodrama and tragedy, heaven and hell, despair and hope. And you, Rachel, are hope. For all the people looking for better days ahead, a revolution will mark a new beginning. I carry your story with me like a good luck charm and am confident it will give others optimism and courage.” (Rachel’s Hope 130)

“I’ve been waiting years to come here, and then this happens. An earthquake that is as unexpected as snow in the summer. I’m afraid I’m all out of patience. I want to get on with my life. I want to go forward, not backward.” (Rachel’s Hope 194)

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