Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick

The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Publish Date: October 4, 2011
Hardcover, 141 pages 
Fiction, Young Adult, Historical
 ISBN: 978-1933693842

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My Review:
The Blood Lie is a very powerful story packed into a short book.  When I picked it up I was so drawn into the story that I could not put it down.  I found myself reading way into the late night hours when I definitely should have been sleeping.  But I had to know what would happen next and how things would turn out.

Because it's short, there isn't a whole lot of development of the characters, but you do get a feel for Jack Pool.  He is a normal teenage boy, yet he is a good boy.  He works for his father's store, he is celebrating his sixteenth birthday.  He has a crush on the girl who is his close friend, yet she is Christian and he is Jewish something that back in the 1920s was a pretty insurmountable obstacle.  But one of the things that makes Jack stand out is his desire to get out of Massena.  He plays the cello and plays it well and it's established in the beginning that he has a chance to interview to go away to a school and he feels this is his chance to get out of this town that no one seems to leave.  So Jack is developed.  I liked Jack and rooted for him in the book.  When bad things started to happen I was scared for him.  I cheered for him when he was brave, I understood when he was scared.  Ms. Vernick does a wonderful job getting the reader into Jack's head, making him a likable character and making the reader care about his outcome.

When the bad thing in the story happens and the little girl disappears, the story really ratchets up a notch.  I wanted to think that people would not behave this way towards fellow Americans no matter what their religion (Christianity is founded from Judiasm, so one would think that Christians would be more accepting of Jews) but I know that things like this did happen.  I happen to live in an area of the south with very few Jewish people so I have never seen much discord between the two religions, and maybe it doesn't exist as much anymore or maybe I'm still deluding myself.  But I found this mob mentality and belief that Jewish people would do this horrible thing to be very insane.  But that is what the unknown will do to people in extreme circumstances so I know this is very plausible.  Plus the fact that Ms. Vernick built this story off of a very real story that she heard about.  That made the book hit even more home to me.

I think The Blood Lie while being a book you can't put down because it enthralls you, it also makes you think.  I think it will make you think about how you view others and things that you do not know and understand.  Hopefully it will make you think about how you treat others whether it's based on age, sex, religion, how they look or whatever.  I know it will with me.  This story really resonated with me.  It entertained me and made me think and I really like that about the story.  Ms. Vernick is a great storyteller and I look forward to more from her in the future.  She has a gift that is well worth sharing and I love how she shared it in The Blood Lie.  Jack is a character that will stay with me for awhile and I am sure I will still remember him and his story in a few months and think about it again and that is a good thing.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Parental guidance: There is a very small amount of language.  There can be some frightening scenes, but nothing that teens 12+ cannot handle.  If they are reading The Hunger Games, they can surely read this and should read this.  This is one of those books I think should make it's way onto the required reading list except for the fact that kids might actually enjoy it (LOL, sorry, I didn't like most of the required high school reading when I was in high school and I was a voracious reader).

About the Book:

September 22, 1928, Massena, New York. Jack Pool's sixteenth birthday. He's been restless lately, especially during this season of more-times-at-the-synagogue than you can shake a stick at. If it wasn't Rosh Hashanah, then it was Yom Kippur, and if it wasn't Yom Kippur, it was the Sabbath. But temple's good for some things. It gives him lots of time to daydream about a beautiful but inaccessible Gentile girl named Emaline. And if she isn't on his mind, then he's thinking about his music and imagining himself playing the cello with the New York Philharmonic. Yup, music is definitely his ticket out of this remote whistle-stop town—he doesn't want to be stuck here one more minute. But he doesn't realize exactly how stuck he is until Emaline's little sister Daisy goes missing and he and his family are accused of killing her for a blood sacrifice.

Blood Lie was inspired by a real blood libel that took place when a small girl disappeared from Massena, New York, in 1928, and an innocent Jewish boy was called a murderer.

About the Author (from 
Shirley Reva Vernick grew up in Massena, New York— the very place where her debut novel The Blood Lie takes place. She now lives with her husband, two daughters, and two frisky dogs in Amherst, Massachusetts. In addition to running a popular storytelling website,, Shirley’s writing has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, national newspapers, and the publications of Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Boston Universities.

FTC Information: I received this book through Teen Book Scene for an honest review.  I do make money from purchases made at The Book Depository and B&, but all money is used to fund giveaways and shipping for giveaways from the blog.