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Letters From Rifka

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The book Letters From Rifka, by Karen Hesse is an inspiring diary of a young Russian girl and her family immigrating to America during the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 was started by millions of people when Czar Nicholas II dragged 11 million peasants into World War I. The people of Russia became disheartened with their injuries and the loss of lives. They began to revolt. This account also tells how Rifka discovers that overcoming hardships can make you a stronger person.



Rifka's eldest brother, Saul refused to join the military. Because of Saul's refusal to fight Rifka and her family then immigrate to the Americas. There were many troubles on the long journey, but to Rifka and her family it was the risk. Later, Rifka becomes ill with a disease called Ringworm, and is forced to be left behind in Belgium'where she will recover. During this time she wonders if she will ever reach Ellis Island. As she struggles through her pain and loneliness, she is hoping that her family will recognize her when she returns.



During Rifka's experience she writes to her cousin Tovah back in Russia'whom she longs to see. Rifka learns many life lessons and changes the lives of many people throughout the book. One lesson that Rifka learns is that it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, it's what is on the inside that counts. She learns this lesson when she gets Ringworm. When Rifka is at one of the many hospitals she looses her hair because of one of the treatments. The doctors don't know if they should let her go to America without hair because they don't think anyone will marry her and support her.



I really enjoyed this historical fiction book and I learned a lot about the Bolshevik Revolution. Even though this book is about the past it is very inspiring to teens today. Young readers will never forget the Bolshevik Revolution and what those people had gone through.



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