Another Me: A Novel / Eva Wiseman. 10.20.2017

Tundra Books ISBN 9781770497160

YA Grades 10-12 Rating: 4

When his merchant father is severely beaten by some of the hateful citizens of Strasbourg, 17-year-old Natan takes over his father’s work and, as a result, meets Elena, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Unfortunately, the two come from opposite worlds–with her being a Christian and him a Jew, they might as well be oceans apart. With the severe restrictions placed on the Jewish community and the Black Death spreading blame and suspicion, Natan and Elena must keep their blossoming love a secret.

One night on his way home from meeting Elena, Natan stumbles upon a group of men trying to poison the city’s well with the intent to cast blame on the Jews of the city. With this discovery, the fate of his people and loved ones now rests in Natan’s hands. Before he can act, Natan’s plans to save his people are struck a fatal blow–or so it seems. However, in a twist of fate or by Hashem’s will, Natan finds the help he needs in the most unexpected way.

Amidst the historical setting of the Middle Ages, Another Me by Eva Wiseman brings to life the factual events of the devastating bubonic plague and the Jewish persecution in Strasbourg through a fictional story of young love and sacrifice, with a central plot shrouded in Jewish mysticism. The story is told from the alternating first-person perspectives of Natan and Elena. This gives readers a more complete understanding of the events that occur and insight into the thoughts and emotions of both main characters, creating empathy for each one’s inner conflicts.

The unique plot is full of suspense and mystery, driven by an underlying need to discover Natan and Elena’s ultimate fate. The mood of the story is somber and bleak, befitting its time and place, the grim circumstances of death and persecution, and the foreboding sense of heartache to come. Through the pain and suffering of loss, however, a story of self-less love shines through the darkness, providing a victory all its own.

Justina McBride, CLJ