To Hope and Back

  • Pages:204
  • Publisher:Second Story Press
  • Series: The Holocaust Remembrance Series for Young Readers
  • Themes:Jewish children Holocaust, Canadian history, Pier 21, Holocaust true story
  • Available:09/01/2011
  • Age Groups:Nonfiction Ages 9-12
  • Lexile:940L
Based on the true story of the ship St. Louis, which left Germany in May 1939 full of Jewish passengers seeking refuge in Cuba. Denied port in Cuba, the US, and finally Canada, the St. Louis was forced to return Europe, where many passengers later died in the Holocaust. Through the eyes of two children, Sol and Lisa, both of whom survived the war and shared their experiences, we see as their journey begins with excitement and hope, only to end in frustration and fear. The children's chapters alternate with those of Captain Schroeder, who reveals the full history of the journey.

"A tragic story about an historical event that deserves to be told, and which should provoke thoughtful discussion about a difficult subject."

– Quill & Quire

"With Lisa and Sol as the voices in To Hope and Back, Kacer wrote on how each child saw the voyage through the expectations of their families, resulting in two gripping accounts of the same event."

– The Canadian Jewish News

"Lisa and Sol’s stories, related with poignancy and immediacy, will touch young readers. An unfortunate lesson on the complicity and international complexities that made the Holocaust possible."

– The New York Times

"[T]he historical significance of the St. Louis and the compelling photos make this a worthwhile supplementary purchase."

– School Library Journal

"A thoughtful and much recommended read, highly recommended for youth history and Holocaust studies collections."

– Library Bookshelf

"The author tells this true story through the eyes of the innocent, building the suspense to a level where readers almost feel they are on the ship themselves. Emotions run high, and the logic of the children seems to be so obviously correct that readers cannot comprehend why the adults do not act appropriately."

– CM Review of Materials

"The novel does an excellent job of mixing fictionalized history with actual achieves its goal of presenting the St. Louis tragedy in a way that young readers can relate to."

– VOYA Magazine

"In this very realistic account, readers will feel as if they are actually on board the ship. They will share the families’ feelings of despair and will share in the great relief that was felt by all when safe havens were finally found."

– The Book Shelf
Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Award (Non-Fiction)   | 2013  |  Short-listed
National Jewish Book Award   | 2011  |  Short-listed