Rachel's Promise (Rachel Trilogy #2)

Rachel's Promise (Rachel Trilogy #2)
Age Range
11+
Release Date
September 21, 2013
ISBN
9781927583142
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It's late 1903 and Rachel Paskar and her family are leaving Russia to escape the murderous riots against Jews. They travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway to the coast and board a ship for Shanghai. China offers refuge but life is far from easy. Back in St. Petersburg, Russia, Rachel's friend Sergei works in a dismal factory to support his family. Worried about the dangerous working conditions, Sergei soon joins rebelling workers but realizes he's trades one source of danger for another. Separated by so many miles, Rachel and Sergei try to make their way in the turbulent political times of the early 20th century--their only connection the letters they write, and their fierce hope for the future.

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CM Magazine review; Volume XX Number 16, Dec. 20, 2013 by Charlotte Duggan (Teacher-Librarian)
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Rachel's Promise, the second book in a trilogy, picks up where Rachel's Secret ended. Rachel and her family have abandoned all hope of a safe and productive life in Russia following the murder of Rachel's father during the infamous 1903 pogrom of Kishinev. The grieving family boards a train for far away Vladivostok where they will then travel by ship to Shanghai, China. Teenaged Rachel is filled with fear and trepidation, but she remains courageous and hopeful as she leads her family towards a new and unknown future.
The pogrom has also propelled Sergei, Rachel's friend and secret romantic interest, to leave his family and abusive father. Knowing that his father stood by and watched as people were murdered and lives were destroyed fills Sergei with angry purpose and resolve. Sergei boards a train for St. Petersburg. There he will look for wortk, plan and save for the day he can reunite with Rachel in Shanghai or maybe America and avenge the deaths of the Jewish people in Kishinev.
Together, these two young people's stories, told in alternating chapters, provide authentic, personal accounts of the daily life of Russia's poor and oppressed during this volatile historical period. Like the first book in the trilogy, Rachel's Promise has been meticulously researched. All the grim details of the gruelling three thousand mile, three week train journey that Rachel's family endures have been captured here, as is the harrowing atmosphere of the five day sea voyage to Shanghai.
The intense drama of each of these young people's stories provides an opportunity for Sanders to explore some fundamental questions about life. While Sergei questions his course of action in his dark and desperate circumstances, Rachel questions the place of religion in the wake of her father's murder. She tells her sister, "We have to make choices to do things that will improve our lives, instead of hoping for divine help that will never come." The result of this exploration is a very satisfying story on many levels.
While their struggles may sound bleak and depressing, Sanders' character are anything but. Rachel is an intelligent, loving young woman. Her courage and determination are clear as she seeks out opportunities to become a writer despite the many obstacles in her path. And while Sergei's struggle seems more desperate, he, too, inspires hope through his determination to do the right thing.
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