Rachel's Promise (Rachel Trilogy #2)
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.